The last time the South Carolina Gamecocks took the field, they were dominated by an ACC Coastal Division team at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. On Saturday, they will hope for better results when they open their 2019 season against a team from the same division, in the same stadium, in the same city.
The only difference is the opponent. Instead of a veteran Virginia Cavaliers team in the midst of their best stretch in years, this Saturday’s opponent will be a youthful North Carolina Tar Heels squad trying to dig itself out a recent rut. With the No. 1, 2, 3, 8, and 12 teams in the county the schedule, this game is close to a must win for the Gamecocks.
While the Tar Heels may have the older coach in age, everything about this game is old vs new with the Gamecocks being on the side of experience. Not only is Will Muschamp in his 4th year at the helm but he has a 4th year starting quarterback alongside him in Jake Bentley . On the other side, Mack Brown returns for his second stint as UNC coach, bringing with him 2 new coordinators and a true freshman quarterback in Sam Howell who he flipped from Florida State late in recruiting cycle\
Even with the loss of Deebo Samuel on offense, South Carolina should have enough weapons to give the Heels a lot of trouble on that side of the ball. Bentley still can throw to Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith, while Rico Dowdle and Clemson Tigers grad transfer Tavien Feaster provide a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield. Unless new defensive coordinator Jay Bateman has helped the UNC run defense make miraculous improvements, the Gamecocks should be able to pick up steady chunks of yards on the ground pretty much at will.
On the defensive side, lineman D.J. Wonnum and Javon Kinlaw, should provide enough pressure to stifle running backs Michael Carter and Antonio Williams and prevent Howell from having too much time to throw. Defensive back Jaycee Horn and linebacker T.J. Brunson both made the preseason All-SEC team and should be able to help contain the electric Tar Heel playmaker Dazz Newsome. If the Gamecocks defensive standouts play up to their potential, they should be able to keep UNC in check.
There is enough talent on the Tar Heel roster to score some points and keep it competitive but South Carolina has better and more experienced players at most of the positions on the field and should end up winning this game quite comfortably.
Prediction: South Carolina wins, 34-17
How To Watch
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET/ 2:30 p.m. CT
Spread: South Carolina (-11/11.5)