South Carolina Football: Game-by-Game predictions for 2015
Halfway through the second week of fall practice, , there’s no better time to continue our SEC game-by-game predictions series breaking down each and every contest during the regular season.
We pride ourselves on knowing college football’s most competitive conference as well as anyone and as one reader pointed out this summer using a weighted point system based on accuracy against other preseason prognosticators, our annual ‘Crystal Ball’ ranks among the nation’s most precise.
We called a couple big-time upsets last fall including Mississippi’s win over Alabama, but whiffed on South Carolina’s abrupt fall from grace in the East along with Mizzou’s second consecutive division title.
We’re ready for another exciting season of SEC football, aren’t you?
2015 CRYSTAL BALL SERIES
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
THE 2015 BATTLEFIELD
Sept. 3 vs. North Carolina (Charlotte, W): We’ll see both quarterbacks — Connor Mitch and Lorenzo Nunez — play against the Tar Heels in a very important game for South Carolina. It’s interesting that Connor Shaw’s first career start in 2011 came in Charlotte as well.
Sept. 12 vs. Kentucky (W): Wildcats fans are pointing to this matchup as one of the ‘toss-ups’ this season, but we don’t see it, not on the road.
Sept. 19 at Georgia (L): The Bulldogs’ defense should show marked improvement and asking Connor Mitch to win between the hedges in his first true road start
Sept. 26 vs. UCF (W): These aren’t those same Knights. South Carolina covers the spread.
Oct. 3 at Mizzou (L): Another rivalry game that will come down to the wire between these two evenly-matched squads, the Tigers hold off the Gamecocks on their final drive.
Oct. 10 vs. LSU (W): One of two big Eastern Division upsets we’ve picked over a nationally-ranked team from the West this season, the Gamecocks will find a way to beat the Tigers late in a low-scoring, physical affair.
Oct. 17 vs. Vanderbilt (W): Take away any special teams snafus and South Carolina rolls.
Oct. 31 at Texas A&M (L): Arguably the Gamecocks’ second-toughest game of the season behind the September road trip to Athens, Texas A&M’s offense knows what works against a defensive unit that vastly underachieved last fall. Expect a lot of points in this one on Halloween.
Nov. 7 at Tennessee (L): South Carolina’s road schedule ends with its fourth loss and third in as many years to those hated Vols.
Nov. 14 vs. Florida (W): The first of three home games to finish the season, South Carolina reaches bowl eligibility and keeps the Head Ball Coach’s lengthy streak of non-losing seasons intact.
Nov. 21 vs. The Citadel (W): These late-season games against Palmetto State FCS competition are often annoying (unless it’s Coastal Carolina), but the key is staying injury-free and allowing some of the younger guys to see some action.
Nov. 28 vs. Clemson (W): The Tigers enter Williams-Brice Stadium with College Football Playoff aspirations only to see those dreams end against a seven-win team from the middle of the SEC. The following week’s appearance in the ACC Championship Game loses most of its luster for Clemson.
2015 PROJECTED FINISH: 8-4, 4-4; Fourth in the East
THE LOWDOWN: After striking out on last year’s lofty South Carolina projection and picking the 2013 slate exactly right, we feel confident this season’s team will land somewhere in the middle. Eight wins — including one over Dabo Swinney — during the regular season with a shot at nine would make for a solid bounce-back year for Steve Spurrier. Most importantly, it keeps the Gamecocks headed in the right direction with what could be an impressive 2016 class on the way in.