Will South Carolina pass the all-important eye test against Texas A&M?
You’re only as good as your last game.
Steve Spurrier often mentions the impact successful end-of-year stretches and bowl victories have on an off-season, positive momentum essential to a program’s growth and well-being.
Excitement spills over to National Signing Day, as does national recognition and hype. Optimism and more importantly, reachable expectations, are what all coaches strive for in building perennial powers, but staying there is quite the challenge.
On Thursday, poll voters and the College Football Playoff selection committee gets their first look at ninth-ranked South Carolina, this year’s preseason SEC Eastern Division favorite who is anchored by a fifth-year senior taking the reins at quarterback and a Heisman hopeful in the backfield.
Public perception’s a crucial factor during the most important regular season in all of sports, more so now considering a 13-member group picks college football’s final four with no computer help.
The Gamecocks have won nine consecutive season openers under Spurrier, but winning pretty has never been South Carolina’s forte on opening night.
Coming off their first conference championship appearance in 2010 with perhaps the most feared offensive trio — Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery — in school history, the 12th-ranked Gamecocks turned it over twice in the opening quarter against East Carolina and fell behind 17-0 in the first half before coming back to win.
The following season on a Thursday night in Nashville ranked just inside the Top 10, South Carolina needed a heroic fourth-down stop inside of two minutes at their own 38 to escape with a 17-13 win.
Which Gamecocks will show up this week?
Judging by preseason projections by media and SEC coaches, most are expecting another banner year for Spurrier’s group coming off the program’s third consecutive 11-win season. A multi-touchdown ranked victory over Texas A&M would go a long way in strengthening that case and would push South Carolina’s school-record home win streak to 19 games.
The stage is set.
Let’s see if the Gamecocks produce.