Power Ranking South Carolina's 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Lee Schechter@@leeschechterContributor IIIJune 17, 2013

Power Ranking South Carolina's 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

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    As the countdown to the college football season marches on, it is time to take a look at the South Carolina Gamecocks' 2013 schedule and rank the games from easiest to toughest. 

    Road games, rankings, expectations of the opponent's season and the timing of games all factor into determining how difficult a game will be for South Carolina this season.

    Head coach Steve Spurrier has high expectations for the team, and there are some tough opponents who will try their best to stop the Gamecocks' quest for an SEC title.  

    South Carolina has some easier nonconference games, though the SEC is the nation's best conference and the team's nonconference schedule also includes North Carolina and Clemson.

    Here is a rankings list of South Carolina's 2013 schedule as ordered from easiest to toughest games.   

12. Vs. Coastal Carolina

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    Coastal Carolina is a small school that is scheduled as a pushover nonconference opponent.

    This game is by far the easiest game on the 2013 schedule for the Gamecocks, as they should march all over Coastal Carolina. 

    Coastal Carolina hails from the Big South Conference and has only been around for about 10 years, so South Carolina has the upper hand across the board. 

    There is not a whole lot more to say here.  

    Easy win for the Garnet and Black. 

11. Vs. Kentucky

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    Head coach Mark Stoops is looking to turn the tides on an overall abysmal football program.  

    Kentucky's football program may be on the rise in the future, but not in time for next season.  

    The Wildcats went winless with an 0-8 record in the SEC last year and only tallied two marks in the win column.   

    This is the Gamecocks' easiest SEC opponent, and it's a home game at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

10. At Missouri

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    Missouri had a tough first season in the SEC, as it only won two games in conference play, with those two wins coming against Kentucky and Tennessee, the SEC East bottom feeders.

    James Franklin is trying to improve upon his 2012 campaign and put together a strong season for the Tigers in their second season in the SEC.

    South Carolina needs to go on the road for the third straight week to defeat Missouri in the middle portion of 2013, though it should not make a big difference.

    South Carolina is well ahead of Missouri on the football field, and the Tigers should still be an easy opponent for the Gamecocks.    

9. At Tennessee

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    Tennessee lost quarterback Tyler Bray to the NFL draft as well as wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, so its passing attack will be slower in 2013.  

    The Volunteers still have the offense and a strong offensive line, though the defense is still not up to snuff in the SEC.  

    After a one-win season in conference play, Tennessee will need a lot of help to beat South Carolina, and being at home in 2013 for the game will not be enough.  

    The Vols just do not have what it takes to topple the Gamecocks and come in low on this list since they are one of the lower opponents in the SEC East.    

8. Vs. Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt has a stout defense and is a rising team in the SEC East division.  The Commodores' days of being a pushover opponent in the SEC are over.  

    If Vanderbilt were playing at home against South Carolina, then its odds to pull off an upset would greatly increase.  Unfortunately, the game takes place in Columbia and makes Vanderbilt another fairly easy SEC opponent in 2013.  

    South Carolina needs to be on its toes and have a well-planned offensive approach to the game since Vanderbilt's defense does not allow points.  The Commodores finished 15th in the nation in points against in 2012 by only allowing 18.7 per game.

    Vanderbilt will be a tougher opponent in the future, but South Carolina will have its number next season.   

7. At Central Florida

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    Central Florida is a very dangerous team, and the Gamecocks will have to win this game on the road.

    The Knights won 10 games in 2012 and also have an explosive offense that is very balanced. Their balanced approach also leads to UCF putting up a lot of points on opponents, as the team averaged 35.4 points per game.

    South Carolina will need to play great defense to slow down the UCF offensive attack.

    The Knights are a dangerous opponent to face on the road, yet the Gamecocks have a bye week before this game and have plenty of time to prepare.

6. Vs. Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State plays in the SEC West and is a formidable SEC opponent from the other division.  

    The Bulldogs beat the teams they are supposed to beat and do so with a scrappy defense and versatile offense.  Where Mississippi State struggles, though, is against ranked opponents, and South Carolina will be another one of those highly ranked opponents. 

    The Bulldogs need to travel into Columbia for the first game of a four-game homestand that will close out the regular season for the Gamecocks.  

    The challenge is too big to overcome for Mississippi State, and there are many tougher SEC opponents who deserve to make the top five of the toughest opponents for the Gamecocks in 2013. 

5. At Arkansas

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    Arkansas was a flat-out mess last season in the wake of the Bobby Petrino scandal and firing.  The Razorbacks struggled all season to hold their own in the SEC, where they usually pull off some big wins.

    Now, Arkansas has a successful new head coach in Bret Bielema and the talent of Petrino's remaining players, which makes for a deadly combination.  Bielema coaches hard-nosed football and always brings out the best in his players.  

    Add in the fact that this is a road game for South Carolina, and the challenge of beating the Razorbacks intensifies.  

    There are a lot of questions surrounding Arkansas's team, but if Bielema can pull his team together, the Razorbacks will be a very tough opponent in 2013. 

4. Vs. North Carolina

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    Week 1 and it is already time for the battle of the Carolinas.

    North Carolina steps into Williams-Brice Stadium to take on South Carolina for all of the Carolina bragging rights.  

    The Tar Heels boast a good offense and an above-average defense.  The team is filled with talent, though it struggles at times to put it all together.  

    In Week 1, South Carolina could start off the season slow and slip up early against a tough opponent.  

    The Gamecocks should be able to win this game and contain the Tar Heels while riding a pumped up home crowd that will do everything it can to will these Gamecocks to a memorable season.  

    The Tar Heels are a very good team but come in at No. 4 because the Gamecocks have three tough games against BCS hopefuls.  

3. Vs. Florida

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    Florida beat South Carolina handily last season and nearly ended up in the SEC Championship Game.  

    The Gators go stagnant offensively at times, especially via the passing game under the leadership of quarterback Jeff Driskel.  

    Florida rides its stingy defense to victories, as it was a top-five defense in points against last season by only allowing 14.5 points per game.  The Gators' 2013 defense probably will not be as good as it was in 2012, but that does not mean this team should be taken lightly.

    Playing at home against Florida is huge for South Carolina, and Spurrier will have his team well-prepared for such a meaningful game.

    The Gators are a strong team definitely in the running to win the SEC East, but right now they are sitting just behind the Georgia Bulldogs and the Gamecocks in that department.  

    Florida is the third-toughest opponent as of right now, but that could all change throughout the course of the 2013 football season.  

2. Vs. Clemson

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    Clemson got its quarterback back for 2013, which continues their hopes for a BCS title.  

    The Tigers have a potent offense with Tajh Boyd at the wheel and an explosive receiver in Sammy Watkins.  The Boyd-to-Watkins connection will be deadly in 2013 and needs to be contained.  

    Throw in a decent defense and Clemson is absolutely on the radar to be a BCS championship dark-horse contender.  

    A final-week showdown between in-state rivals is just what college football fans want to see, and South Carolina and Clemson will hopefully bring their best football to the field.

    The Gamecocks have the edge as the home team and because they are becoming the better team in the state of South Carolina, especially via in-state recruiting.

    This is a statement game for both teams, and the Tigers are a top-10-caliber team in 2013, which makes them an extremely difficult opponent.

1. At Georgia

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    The Georgia Bulldogs have the expectation of winning the SEC East, and they really want the revenge of defeating the Gamecocks after last year's embarrassing loss. 

    As of late, Spurrier has had Georgia's number, and that makes Georgia even more dangerous and hungry to change the state of the rivalry.  

    Aaron Murray returns to Georgia to lead the team's passing attack, which should be very strong.  The Bulldogs have a good offensive line to protect Murray, and they will need the big boys up front against Jadeveon Clowney and the pass rush of South Carolina.  

    Georgia's defense is a bit young, but it's Georgia and it is always a tough opponent each season. 

    South Carolina also needs to go to Athens to win this football game, and it is both teams' second game of the year.  

    Young players will be raw and inexperienced, coaching will be a major factor and upperclassmen need to step up.

    Georgia wants to compete for a BCS title and is a top team in the nation, which makes it South Carolina's toughest opponent in 2013.