Anybody else sick and tired of hearing about how tough South Carolina’s 2019 football schedule is?
At this point, the difficulty of the schedule this fall has been pounded into our skulls.
The schedule consists of four pre-season Top 10 teams, an upstart Texas A&M team, a Kelly Bryant led Mizzou team and a Kentucky team that the Gamecocks haven’t beaten since 2013.
Still, the schedule feels like it’s getting a little too much play in my book. To hell with the schedule. It’s hard EVERY year.
“Well, this schedule is brutal. I’ll be happy with 6-6.” Stuff like that is very easy to say now and use as a crutch to deflect on what most expect to be a disappointing season.
It’s a completely different thing, however, to keep that sentiment in December after the Gamecocks have again gone winless against ranked competition.
Every great coach/player/program has had one or two “signature wins” – games that mark the beginning of a run or show signs of progress and promise for the future.
Just look back at the Gamecocks last two head coaches and the runs that followed after their signature wins…
Signature Win: 2000 vs. UGA
Lou Holtz was hired in 1999 to revitalize a Gamecocks football program that struggled to find winning ways. Holtz’ first year was abysmal, going 0-11 due to a multitude of injuries on both sides of the ball.
Not much was expected out of the Gamecocks in 2000. South Carolina beat New Mexico State week one to end a nasty 21 game losing streak.
Still, not much was expected for South Carolina, especially against the Bulldogs. UGA rolled into town with Heisman candidate Quincy Carter at quarterback and a plethora of talent all over the field.
All the Gamecocks did was pick off Carter five times, en route to a 21-10 win over the Dawgs. The win sparked a run of back to back Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State.
Signature Win: 2009 vs. Ole Miss
While there were many big wins, along with some firsts in Steve Spurrier’s first couple of seasons, the Ole Miss win (along with another major win mentioned below) truly showed true promise of things to come for the Gamecocks football program.
South Carolina was in year five of the Spurrier era and many in Gamecock Nation were starting to question whether or not the HBC still had it.
Ole Miss rolled into Williams-Brice Stadium ranked 4th in the country, with hotshot Jevan Snead leading the Rebels at quarterback.
The Gamecocks defense suffocated Ole Miss and Stephen Garcia led the USC offense to muster just enough points to pull the massive upset at home.
The night also signified the birth of sandstorm, a tradition every fan is familiar with to this day.
Signature Win: 2010 vs. Alabama
The biggest win in South Carolina football history.
The stage was set. #1 Alabama rolled into town, winners of 29 straight regular season games. That would end on a Saturday afternoon in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Stephen Garcia had one of the best games at QB in USC history and South Carolina’s “goon squad” defense came up with big timely turnovers when they needed it most.
This is the game in my opinion that single handedly led to the best run in school history. A SEC East Title, three straight 11 win seasons, three straight bowl wins, the highest ranked finish in school history, etc.
Signature Win: N/A
So now, the question remains: can Will Muschamp and company find a way to lead the Gamecocks to a signature win this season?
Will it be between the hedges when USC travels to Athens to take on the Dawgs? Do the Gamecocks finally snap the five game losing streak to their hated rivals in the Upstate? Do we see a repeat of 2010 when the Crimson Tide come to town in early September?
Or does it come elsewhere? Possibly against a highly talented Texas A&M team in College Station or Dan Mullen’s Gators.
Simply put, this schedule can’t be used as a cripple as Will Muschamp heads into year four of his tenure at South Carolina.
I’m not saying fire the guy if he wins less than 8 games. But a .500 season beating only the teams you’re “supposed to beat” won’t be good enough.
Only time will tell if this team and this team and coaching staff can step up to the challenge come this fall.