South Carolina enters the 2015 season with a certain degree of disrespect. Expectations have dropped precipitously in the aftermath of the 2014 season, and offseason news continued rampant speculation about Steve Spurrier's eventual retirement. I imagine the offseason felt long for the Gamecock faithful. Narratives shift all the time, and a few winning Saturdays can erase months of negative press. These two games are the most important to establish that the 2014 season was an outlier in the new age of South Carolina football.
September 19th at Georgia
This is South Carolina's first true road game after opening the season at a neutral site in Charlotte against North Carolina and at home versus Kentucky. South Carolina is presently a 2.5 point favorite over the Tar Heels, and it will almost certainly be favored over Kentucky the following week. In other words, Georgia is the first game of the season for the Gamecocks to prove themselves in 2015. Georgia will be the favorite to win the SEC East and is probably too much for South Carolina, but a close loss could announce a successful 2015 season. This goes without saying that while at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier has a respectable 4-5 record against the Bulldogs. If any underdog in the SEC East can beat Georgia at home, it's probably Spurrier.
November 7th at Tennessee
South Carolina's second biggest game of 2015 is another road game, this time in Knoxville. The common perception is that it's the Volunteers usurping South Carolina in the pecking order of the SEC East. That has ramifications ranging from prestige to recruiting in Georgia and the Carolinas. The outcome of this game could have a long-term impact. Tennessee, with their bevy of talented youngbloods, will remember winning an insane game in overtime at South Carolina last season. They've gotten the taste of beating South Carolina, and the Gamecocks would do well to remind them, and us all, that was a freak occurrence.