South Carolina Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s 6th toughest schedule

NCAA Football: Florida at South Carolina

SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC.

2014 SEC Strength of Schedule Rankings:

How the NCAA ranks the SEC’s 2014 strength of schedule
#1: Tennessee strength of schedule
#2: Arkansas strength of schedule
#3: Florida strength of schedule
#4: Auburn strength of schedule
#5: Kentucky strength of schedule
#6: South Carolina strength of schedule
#7: Georgia strength of schedule
#8: LSU strength of schedule
#9: Texas A&M strength of schedule
#10: Ole Miss strength of schedule
#11: Mississippi State strength of schedule
#12: Alabama strength of schedule
#13: Missouri strength of schedule
#14: Vanderbilt strength of schedule

On the heels of three straight 11-win seasons, the Gamecocks have watched the SEC Championship the last three years the same place as you and me: from the couch. Despite beating the eventual SEC East division winner the last three years, USC hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2010. Steve Spurrier and company hope 2014 is finally the year they return to get their chance at winning a conference and national championship, but they’ll have to navigate a tougher strength of schedule than most.

South Carolina strength of schedule for 2014:

2014 South Carolina Gamecocks schedule

  • Aug. 28: Texas A&M
  • Sept. 6: East Carolina
  • Sept. 13: Georgia
  • Sept. 20: at Vanderbilt
  • Sept. 27: Missouri
  • Oct. 4: at Kentucky
  • Oct. 18: Furman
  • Oct. 25: at Auburn
  • Nov. 1: Tennessee
  • Nov. 15: at Florida
  • Nov. 22: South Alabama
  • Nov. 29: at Clemson

By the Numbers

  • 7 home games
  • 5 away games
  • 1 power non-conference game
  • 5 projected preseason top 25 teams (Texas A&M, Georgia, Missouri, Auburn, Clemson)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC East: 4th
  • SEC overall: 6th

Notes:

  • Cross-divisional opponents: Texas A&M and Auburn
  • Opponents winning %: 96-59 (.619)
  • Bye weeks: Before Furman and Florida
  • Biggest swing game: Georgia

South Carolina’s strength of schedule kicks off the upper half of the SEC’s toughest schedules. Ranked as the 6th toughest schedule, the Gamecocks are ready to punch their ticket to Atlanta and become a real player for the playoff.

The Gamecocks’ strength of schedule is aided by playing two preseason-ranked SEC West opponents in Texas A&M and Auburn. No doubt Auburn enters a favorite for the College Football Playoff, and although the Aggies will be in rebuilding mode, they surely have top-25-caliber talent.

The non-conference schedule gives us one of the best rivalries in college football against Clemson. The Gamecocks have won five in a row and just embarrassed the Tigers in Columbia in 2013. East Carolina, Furman and South Alabama should be drops in the bucket and easy non-conference wins.

Four tough road trips – and one that’s getting tougher against Kentucky – lie ahead. Vanderbilt, Auburn, Florida and Clemson are all away from Williams-Brice Stadium, which features the longest winning streak in college football. The Commodores always play the Gamecocks tough, and Auburn and Florida are just brutal places to play no matter how good or bad the Tigers or Gators may be.

The Gamecocks’ schedule features two different tough three-game slates. The first stretch comes against Georgia, Vanderbilt and Missouri in consecutive weeks, while the second stretch comes against Auburn, Tennessee and Florida.

As of late, the Gamecocks wind up losing the one game they can’t afford to lose. Last year, it was to unranked and bowless Tennessee. Who will it be this year? Are the Gamecocks ready to return to Atlanta?

Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

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