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2017

South Carolina Gamecocks

College Football

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Schedule

Not much was expected from South Carolina in 2016 and that’s why reaching a bowl game was such a good thing in Will Muschamp’s first season with the team. While the Gamecocks couldn’t stick with the best teams they faced, they return 16 starters and could contend for the SEC East title if all goes well. Yet, with a tougher schedule, all may not go well.

That said, the Gamecocks still have plenty to work with and that starts on the offensive side with quarterback Jake Bentley taking over full-time duties. Bentley came in halfway through last season, leading the team to four wins in his first five starts to go with a 65.8 completion percentage. He carried those numbers into the spring game with 301 yards and three scores with top target Bryan Edwards seeing most of the action. But for this team to be more consistent and stay competitive with the big boys, they’ll need to form some kind of running game and get improvement from the line. Transfer running back Ty’Son Williams did well in the spring game and he’s joined by the leaders from last year’s group in Rico Dowdle (764 yards, 6 TDs) and A.J. Turner (497 yards, 3 TDs). If Bentley can show logical progression and the ground game is only slightly better, this team will be tough.

Still, that’s only if the Gamecocks are just as good defensively. While they struggled against elite teams like Clemson, the defense did enough against A&M and Kentucky to get early-season wins. It was the offense that couldn’t do enough in those games. But while they have plenty of talent returning, the Gamecocks lose a few starters on the defensive line, which was one of their issues in 2016. If the line struggles again, it’s hard to see them improving from last season. Skai Moore could return after missing last year with a neck injury to join T.J. Brunson and Bryson Allen-Williams at linebacker. They could have the same struggles on the line, but the secondary should be set with Jamarcus King and Chris Lammons still there joined by some incoming talent.

But improving on last year’s six wins will take a bit more given a tougher schedule. Outside of Tennessee, the Gamecocks didn’t really have a great win last season. Starting against NC State will be a good, but winnable test and if that goes to plan, the SEC schedule opens up for winnable games against fellow East teams. Still, a three-game stretch in the middle of the season could decide their fate at A&M, vs. Arkansas and then at Tennessee. If they can’t win one of those road games, it’ll be goodbye to the possibilities of an SEC East title with games against Georgia and Florida still on the slate.

The Gamecocks are projected in the same spot as Kentucky, fourth in the SEC East with odds of +8000 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference. The offense may be improved, but the defense is still up for debate and with a tougher schedule, getting to eight wins may be a little too difficult for Muschamp in his second year.

2017 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Schedule

Sept. 2 at NC State (Bank of America Stadium)
Sept. 9 at Missouri
Sept. 16 vs. Kentucky
Sept. 23 vs. Louisiana Tech

Sept. 30 at Texas A&M
Oct. 7 vs. Arkansas
Oct. 14 at Tennessee
Oct. 28 vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 4 at Georgia
Nov. 11 vs. Florida
Nov. 18 vs. Wofford
Nov. 25 vs. Clemson

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