Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks exceeded expectations in a big way in 2021 with a 7-6 record, including wins over Auburn and Florida down the stretch, which really fueled momentum across the program.

Beamer’s club also got several announcements on defense of players choosing to return for another season, and pass on the NFL for now. That’s why the defensive line is viewed as a strong unit behind Zacch Pickens and Jordan Burch, and the outside is locked down with Cam Smith at cornerback.

That was all before the Gamecocks got an infusion of talent in the transfer of Spencer Rattler and Austin Stogner from Oklahoma, and led many to believe they would enter the preseason ranked in the AP Top 25.

South Carolina was picked to finish fifth in the SEC East in a media poll at SEC Media Days last month. The Gamecocks also did not have a player make first-team All-SEC last month on offense or defense.

ESPN’s Football Power Index has South Carolina pegged to win 5.9 games.

Here’s the FPI chances for victory for the Gamecocks for each game:

Sept. 3 Georgia State – 82.5%
Sept. 10 at Arkansas – 27.8%
Sept. 17 Georgia – 7.9%
Sept. 24 Charlotte – 86.1%
Oct. 1 South Carolina State – 98.8%
Oct. 8 at Kentucky – 23.5%
Oct. 22 Texas A&M – 36.6%
Oct. 29 Missouri – 31.9%
Nov. 5. at Vanderbilt – 77.6%
Nov. 12 at Florida – 30.1%
Nov. 19 Tennessee – 44.1%
Nov. 26 at Clemson – 7.8%