Yesterday, I ran a poll on our Twitter page regarding the toughest three game stretch of the 2019 season for the Gamecocks:
What is the #Gamecocks most important “three game stretch” of the 2019 season?— The Spurs Up Show (@TheSpursUpShow) June 24, 2019
Let’s take a look at each stretch of games. Which one will define the 2019 season?
vs. Bama, @ Mizzou, UK
An opportunity against the nation’s best, a swing game and a must win. What’s not to like about this stretch?
First, can South Carolina go “toe to toe” with one of the nation’s elite in a nationally televised game at Williams-Brice? Can Jake Bentley and co. play their best in a big game?
Those questions and more will be answered when the Crimson Tide come to town.
It’s CBS’ “Game of The Week”, which means the stage will be set for either a massive upset or more of the same against the nation’s elite.
Next up, the annual “Battle For The Mayor’s Cup”.
This really just has the feeling of one of those swing games that could make or break South Carolina’s season.
Clemson transfer QB Kelly Bryant has instilled a lot of optimism in CoMo and many are picking the Tigers as their dark-horse in the SEC.
Still, this is a swing game I feel South Carolina fans still expect to win. A loss here could seriously put a shot at bowl eligibility at risk this fall.
Finally, will South Carolina end this miserable losing streak to Kentucky?
Simply put, this season will be a complete failure if the Gamecocks fall to UK for a sixth straight season.
Carolina gets the Cats at home and without stars from before such as Benny Snell and Josh Allen.
USC needs to find a way to beat Kentucky and beat them soundly to put this streak to rest.
@ UGA, vs. FL, @ UT
This stretch to me will truly signify where South Carolina is in the SEC East pecking order.
First, the Gamecocks travel to Athens to do battle between the hedges.
Similar to the early season match-up against Alabama, this game will provide South Carolina with yet another opportunity to show it can compete on the national stage against the nation’s elite.
Fair or not, games like this will be huge in shaping Jake Bentley’s legacy as he finishes his career in garnet and black.
Next up, can the Gamecocks avenge last years collapse in Gainesville?
Carolina led the Gators by 17 points with just over four minutes left to go in the third quarter before completely falling apart defensively.
Florida is another team in the SEC East riding into this fall with a lot of optimism, with some picking the Gators as a pre-season Top 15 team.
Getting UF at home should give South Carolina a good chance to make up for last year’s debacle.
Finally, USC travels to Knoxville, a place it has only won three times in its history.
Will Muschamp will look to improve on his own record against the Vols, going for his eight straight win to remain perfect against the orange and white.
One of South Carolina’s greatest achievements over the last 10 years or so is the way it was able to overtake Tennessee in the SEC East hierarchy.
While there is some optimism on Rocky Top behind second year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, Carolina needs to squash all hopes of a Tennessee football resurgence (for now) and secure a big road win.
vs. App State, @ Texas A&M, vs. Clemson
There can’t be a conversation about the most important three game stretch of the season without mentioning the annual rivalry clash with Clemson.
Before that, however, the Gamecocks face off against a pesky Appalachian State team that won 11 games a year ago, including a 45-13 win over MTSU in the New Orleans Bowl.
Even with first year head coach Eli Drinkwitz, the Mountaineers will be a sexy upset pick this off-season for November’s showdown in Columbia.
Next up, South Carolina travels to College Station to face an Aggies team it has never beaten in school history.
With the losing streak to TAMU sitting at five games, this feels like another ugly streak South Carolina needs to find a way to get rid of.
Finally, the annual showdown with Carolina’s bitter in-state rival.
This game arguably sits as South Carolina’s best chance to pull a monumental upset in 2019, getting the Tigers in Columbia to end the year.
While the result wasn’t what anyone wanted, the Gamecocks showed fight in last year’s game, scoring 35 points and Jake Bentley throwing for over 500 yards.
A crazy night in a rivalry game could spring South Carolina to the “signature win” Will Muschamp has been looking for since he stepped on campus.
Verdict: @ UGA, vs. FL, @ Tennessee
First off, let me express just how surprised I was at the results of the above poll.
I really REALLY thought fans were going to cite the three game stretch against Bama, Mizzou and UK simply because of the five game losing streak to the Cats.
While I would agree that one is massive, the most important three game stretch of the 2019 season in my opinion comes against three very familiar SEC East foes.
With all due respect, wins against teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mizzou, etc. should be forgone conclusions beginning in 2019 and beyond.
Otherwise, I fear this program simply is not headed in the direction you or I hoped it was.
Where does South Carolina sit in the SEC East pecking order? How close realistically are the Gamecocks to contending with Georgia for the SEC East Title?
I think this three game stretch will truly give us a sense of where this program is as a whole when it comes to SEC pecking order.
If South Carolina goes 2-1 or better, it truly reaffirms that the program is trending upward and has solidified itself above Tennessee and right with if not above Florida.
Go 1-2 or worse? A road trip to Atlanta, GA in December may be a lot farther off than fans might have hoped.