I’m not big on predictions, because I rarely get things right. For instance, in 2014 I had South Carolina at 10-2 prior to the start of the season. To be fair, most of us did, but we chose to ignore and/or be unrealistically optimistic about our defense.
This year, as stated on our last podcast, we know less about our Gamecocks as any team in recent memory. There are days I think we can play over our heads and win nine games, and there are days I feel like we will win as few as five. As I look at the 2015 schedule, my head tells me this year is going to be a struggle. But when I’m not looking at the schedule, my heart sees my beloved garnet and black running onto the field and stunning the SEC with a talented, overachieving, scrappy bunch worthy of their nickname.
So against my better judgment, I decided to let my head and heart go game by game and tell me how the season is going to play out. Here are the results:
Heart: We should never lose to North Carolina in football. We are the football school, they are the basketball school. They are a middling ACC team, we are a fair to middling SEC team. Advantage SEC and USC. Win. (1-0)
Head: UNC was good on offense last year and terrible on defense, as was USC. This season UNC will be just as good if not better on offense, and should be better on defense, while USC will most assuredly be worse on offense and better on defense. This tells me UNC has a good chance to win. However, my head also tells me that given the toughness of the schedule USC faces, this is almost a must-win game for the Gamecocks (strange to say for a first game, but true). Hopefully they will treat it that way. For that reason my head is saying win. (1-0)
Heart: It’s at home, and it’s payback time. Win going away. (2-0)
Head: My head says we come out with our hair on fire, but struggle down the stretch and hold on for a closer-than-it-should-be win. (2-0)
Heart: Georgia leads the series 47-18-2, but is only 8-7 in the last 15 games against the Gamecocks. I don’t like our chances, but think we still have a chance. Unfortunately this game is in Athens, and much like us against Kentucky, it’s payback time. Loss. (2-1)
Head: UGA’s defense is LOADED. Our offense is not. Georgia has Nick Chubb. We do not. (You will argue we have Pharoh Cooper, which is fair, but he will get half the number of touches as Chubb, if that many.) This game would be a blowout if they had a QB. It still might be. Loss. (2-1)
Heart: We should not lose to Central Florida at home. Ever. Win. (3-1)
Head: We should not lose to Central Florida at home. Ever. But something tells me there will be a point in the game where we have serious doubts. Still, win. (3-1)
Heart: Missouri is somehow the back-to-back SEC East Champions. But they lost a lot of key players on offense and defense. This is finally the year that the Tigers are who we think they are. Win. (4-1)
Head: Missouri is in ours. They find a way to win no matter how bad we disrespect them, especially since it’s at their place. Loss. (3-2)
Heart: LSU has their problems, especially at QB. But they’re also always more talented than us from player 1 to player 85. We squeak one out at home. Win. (5-1)
Head: We have two wins over LSU in 20 tries, with the last one coming in 1994. Leonard Fournette is a freight train, and the Tigers always seem to be bigger and stronger than us, no matter how good we are. Loss. (3-3)
Heart: A good break between LSU and TAMU. Win. (6-1)
Head: We can never seem to dismantle these guys like we should, even when James Franklin isn’t their coach. Regardless, we’ll win, but somehow it won’t feel good. (4-3)
@ Texas A&M
Heart: In my heart I feel like we’ll take one of two between TAMU and Tennessee. Don’t ask how, that’s why it’s a heart thing. Win. (7-1)
Head: Home team in black uniforms. Halloween. We’ve seen this movie before. (4-4)
Heart: Well, we beat TAMU, and I said we’d take only one of these two. Loss. (7-2)
Head: Tennessee beat us on our home field with an inferior team last year. They will boat race us on their home field with a now superior team. Loss. (4-5)
Heart: With all their personnel deficiencies, a first-year head coach and them coming to W-B, I think we play well and get the win. (8-2)
Head: They will shorten the game and make us sweat, but for the reasons above I think we win fairly comfortably. (5-5)
Heart: Low-stress day. Win. (9-2)
Head: High-stress day. Win. (6-5)
Heart: We’ll come out inspired, shut down Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson, and have one of our best days offensively. Win. (10-2)
Head: You might not like to hear this, but somehow, over the course of 21 months, Clemson has managed to completely change the course of the rivalry back in their favor. They are currently better than us in practically every aspect of their football program, and have gained national respect while we have tumbled back into mediocrity. We just have to hope we can figure out a way to get the momentum back as quickly as we lost it. Unfortunately it won’t be this year. Loss. (6-6)
Heart – 10-2
Head – 6-6
Honestly, 10-2 is a pipe dream for the 2015 Gamecocks, and I will gladly print out this blog post and eat it if we get to that mark or better. We’ll have to be much better than our roster currently indicates, and at least two teams will have to be worse than they are projected to be.
A 6-6 campaign or worse would be disastrous for USC in my opinion, and would probably lead to the end of the Steve Spurrier era. The most likely scenario is 7-5, with a ceiling of 8-4.
Prove me wrong boys, please prove me wrong. Go Cocks.