Cocks Open Season with NC State

CocksSouth Carolina will start their fourth season with Steve Spurrier at the helm tonight against NC State here in Columbia . As usual, the city is pulsing with activity, preparing for the onslaught of 80,000 fans in Williams-Brice Stadium and thousands more just outside.

Carolina had an amazing start to last season, beating Georgia between the hedges, knocking off highly-ranked Kentucky here in Columbia on a wet and rainy Thursday night and reached as high as no. 6 in the national polls. Then the shit hit the fan and the Gamecocks lost their last five games and weren’t invited to any bowl games. There was the 17-6 home loss to Vanderbilt while ranked no. 6 and then an overtime loss at Tennessee and a 23-21 loss to Clemson on a last-second field goal, here in Columbia.

So this year is a bit about redemption. Last year’s team was really quite good and then everything just fell apart. Injuries, especially on defense, played a huge part and the play at quarterback was pretty inconsistent. In 2008 Tommy Beecher will be starting for the first time, as a redshirt junior. Columbia native Mike Davis will be the featured back and Kenny McKinley leads the receiving corps. This is a team that can absolutely compete in the middle of the pack and above in the SEC. There are six winnable games in the first seven (NC State, at Vandy, Wofford, UAB, at Ole Miss and at Kentucky). Three of the last five games will be at home, though the opponents are infinitely tougher (LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas, at Florida, at Clemson). Arkansas can be beaten and Carolina will have revenge on its mind when hosting Tennessee. And of course the Clemson game is always a crap-shoot.

In my opinion, Carolina will finish 7-5. I’ve got them beating NC State, Vandy, Wofford, UAB, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas with losses against Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Florida and Clemson.

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