Things are moving forward as SEC teams begin practice this week. In a year where nothing has been normal, finding out the upcoming season’s schedule only a month before games start seems par for the course in 2020. South Carolina is accustomed to playing one of the toughest slates in the nation. Therefore, 10 consecutive conference games should not look as daunting as it sounds. The Gamecocks schedule is now out and they now know when and where they play each opponent.
South Carolina Gamecocks Schedule Breakdown
Coach Will Muschamp and company learned last week who their additional crossover opponents would be from the SEC West. They were already locked in to their annual meeting with Texas A&M. The normal East-West rotation had a road trip to the defending national champion LSU Tigers. Moving to 10 SEC games meant adding two more teams from the other side of the conference. Auburn and Ole Miss were added from the West to finish off the Gamecocks schedule.
South Carolina is coming off a dismal 4-8 season, and desperately needs some positive signs early in the 2020 campaign. There are no warm up games against smaller schools this season. That means the next few weeks of practice will be crucial to getting the team prepared. However, the Gamecocks schedule does set up in a way that the team could get off to a solid start. They host Tennessee on September 26 to open the year. The Gamecocks have won three of four over the Volunteers. This will be the first of multiple toss up games in which South Carolina matches up favorably. New offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will need to have his unit well versed in his system with an improving Tennessee team coming to town to open the season.
Next up will be back to back road games at Florida and Vanderbilt. Trips to the swamp in Gainesville are never easy. This year’s Gator team will be looking to challenge atop the SEC. The loss to Florida in 2019, along with all the controversy from that game, seemed to deflate South Carolina and sent their season spiraling to a bitter ending. Muschamp and his team will look for redemption this year, but that won’t come easily on the road. The Commodores are one of the few teams that the Gamecocks will be favored over. It will be a must win contest in a season with no guarantees. If they can escape the first three games at 2-1 or better, the momentum and confidence built early will help moving forward.
South Carolina needs to get off to a fast start in 2020. It’s necessary to erase the taste of a poor 2019 season, and because the middle of the Gamecocks schedule is unforgiving. The garnet and black will face all four of their SEC West opponents in a five week span. Auburn comes to town first on October 17th, followed by a road game at LSU, a home date with A&M, and finally a trip to the Grove to face Ole Miss. Alternating home and road games will help during this difficult stretch, but none of these games will be easy.
South Carolina is a putrid 3-33-2 combined against Auburn, LSU, and Texas A&M. If they hope to bounce back with a winning season in 2020, one of those trends will need to be reversed. The one positive is that by the time this tough stretch arises on the schedule, the Gamecocks should have a grasp on what type of team they are. These three opponents are all ranked inside the preseason top 20. Nothing comes easy in this league. Following that gauntlet, South Carolina will have a tough road test versus the Rebels. The Gamecocks won a shootout last time they traveled to Oxford, behind the play of Jake Bentley, Bryan Edwards, and Deebo Samuel. The Rebels will not be easy to beat. However, this will be another game Coach Muschamp’s team has to win in order to have a successful season.
Return to the East
The final three games in 2020 will see South Carolina face the other half of their SEC East brethren. The Missouri Tigers will come to town on November 21st in what will be another must win for the South Carolina. The Gamecocks schedule is as tough as usual. That means the games in which the teams are closely matched become even more important. This contest falls into that category. Next up will be a visit from a Georgia team that will have revenge on their minds. After a 20-17 upset loss in Athens a season ago, the Bulldogs will look to make amends for that defeat. This game will in a way take the place of the Clemson contest. It will be on Thanksgiving weekend, and pair the Gamecocks with their biggest rival in the SEC.
The season ends with a trip to Kentucky to face a program that has been trending upward the last few seasons. South Carolina got back on the winning side of this match-up in 2019, after a painful five game losing streak. They will look to make it two in a row in a battle of two teams fighting for position in the SEC east standings.