The South Carolina Gamecocks football team is ready to begin their 2012 season and will have a number nine ranking attached, according to USA Today.
With fire power retuning on offense and experienced starters and contributors returning on defense, the talent and optimism is evident in Gamecock country, and the voters are fully aware of it as well.
This is the first season the USC Gamecocks have placed higher than 12th in the polls, and they join fellow SEC members Georgia, Alabama, and LSU in the top 10.
Putting things in perspective, the Gamecocks usually aren’t put into conversation with the likes of those teams.
Being ranked number nine is a serious ranking. The normal powers that be, such as those teams mentioned above, usually occupy those positions.
Which begs the question: Are the Gamecocks prepared for the hype and pressure that comes with the high rank?
It’s not unusual to see a team highly ranked in the preseason polls falter in the season because it could not succeed with the hype given to them.
South Carolina was expected to make a run at the SEC title last season, but fell just short. The good news is that they experienced an 11-win season, including a win versus Nebraska in a bowl game to keep the momentum going into next season.
On offense, Marcus Lattimore, Connor Shaw, Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington are returning. Defensively, Devin Taylor, JaDeveon Clowney at end and senior DeVonte Holloman at spur gives the Gamecocks plenty of validity to claim a high ranking to begin the season.
Standing on talent alone, the Gamecocks are rightfully ranked near the top. However, they’ve never been in this position before in terms of national preseason hype, which, if played wrong, could be a downfall for the team.
South Carolina must avoid and ignore as much talk about them as they can. Dictating how they handle the buildup, will dictate their season.