South Carolina football: Predicting the Gamecocks' next 5 games
South Carolina has already had a topsy-turvy season just 3 games in. The Gamecocks unexpectedly turned to true freshman Ryan Hilinski, who so far has exceeded expectations, and are 1-2 with the meat of their SEC schedule on tap.
Hilinski has completed 69 percent of his passes and hit 9 receivers in 2 starts. What’s more, South Carolina’s offense is 15th nationally in total rushing yards through 3 games.
So while there was a stinging loss to open the season, the Alabama game offered multiple optimistic views for the season as a season-defining stretch of games awaits. Bowl eligibility should also be determined by the end of this upcoming stretch of 5 games.
Interestingly, several of these series have a streak of wins by one team.
Here is a prediction of how the next 5 games will go for South Carolina:
Sept. 21 at Missouri (W)
This is a reasonable test to see just where Hilinski stands in his development. Charleston Southern was similar to a scrimmage, and Alabama was obviously well above the average SEC team, especially from the East. South Carolina has won 3 consecutive against Missouri, and look for that streak to continue. Look for the familiarity against Kelly Bryant to play a factor for Will Muschamp and staff.
Sept. 28 vs. Kentucky (L)
Kentucky’s 5-game winning streak is no accident as it has spanned staffs and even types of teams, from quarterback changes to coordinator moves. This extends to UK wins in 6 of 9 meetings, and includes a Joker Phillips win over Steve Spurrier. Bryan McClendon has to find a new wrinkle after South Carolina has scored 10, 13 and 10 points in the past 3 meetings. The young Kentucky secondary growing up, coupled with more experience for Sawyer Smith, will cause trouble for Hilinski and the Gamecocks.
Oct. 12 at Georgia (L)
Coming off of a bye week, this likely won’t have the hype of last year’s meeting when the Gamecocks were still a dark horse pick to win the East. If this game were in Columbia, it could have the makings of an upset, similar to the Alabama game, at least from the first half. But Georgia will have more time to find Hilinski’s tendencies, and unlike Alabama this season is capable of running the ball.
Oct. 19 vs. Florida (W)
Muschamp shouldn’t have any trouble finding motivation after the Gamecocks had the Gators down last year, but let them back up. South Carolina led 31-14 before 3 unanswered Florida touchdowns. Like Georgia against Hilinski, the South Carolina defensive staff can develop a book on Kyle Trask to cause him problems given a few weeks on video.
Oct. 26 at Tennessee (W)
This is a dangerous game for the Gamecocks as the series has see-sawed. The Gamecocks are on a 3-game winning streak, but that followed a 3-game losing streak. Speaking of Georgia, part of the reason last year’s game with the Bulldogs unraveled quickly was the game plan by then-offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who’s now at Tennessee. But Chaney’s weapons aren’t as good at Tennessee. Deploying Jarrett Guarantano and others against the Gamecock defense is a taller order.