Here is a list of the five games the Gamecocks must win for two reasons. Not just to get to the SEC Championship game, but to prove to everyone out there that they are for real. Even if the Gamecocks don't get to Atlanta to play for the SEC Championship, winning these five games will impress just as many people.
The SEC never fails to be impressive, and a few of the teams on this list are considered top of the heap, not just in the SEC, but in the NCAA.
The Dawgs and the Gamecocks have themselves a rivalry, and have for a while. This has nothing to do with the rivalry though. It has everything to do with both teams being in a similar position.
Georgia underperformed last season and are ready to right those wrongs.
The Georgia/South Carolina game was projected to be a snooze fest last season and in fact was one of the more exciting games that day, if not that month.
Both teams will have chips on their shoulders going into the season. The team that knocks it off of their opponent will likely be headed in the right direction. The loser of the game will be playing catch up very early.
The Tide will come rolling into Columbia in early October.
There was talk of this being a Saturday night game, but that talk appears to have died down. When the Tide come to Carolina, the Gamecocks will definitely have something to prove.
Last season the Gamecocks played it closer than many expected, but an early interception had them playing from behind. No use talking about what could have been, but the time is now to talk about what should be.
The Gamecocks can shock the world on October 9. Unless the defending National Champions and Heisman Trophy winner falter early of course, but I don't see that happening.
Will the lights of William Brice spell doom for the highly ranked Tide like they did for the Ole Miss Rebels last season? We'll find out October 9.
Lane Kiffin is gone. I don't think anyone is shedding tears over that.
The Gamecocks were utterly embarrassed in Knoxville last season.
This is a game on the list not because the Volunteers are expected to be great, but because the Gamecocks need to start taking their rivals and showing them that they are for real. The Gamecocks also owe the Volunteers from last season.
First year Head Coach Derek Dooley, and the departure of mega-star Eric Berry are key things to keep in mind.
The first away game on the list of must wins. Of course it would be the loudest away game the Gamecocks play. Period. At the Swamp against the Gators.
Nobody knows Urban Meyer's status for sure, plus Tim Tebow is gone, but the Gators are the Gators.
This match last year was another game that the Gamecocks took to the wire. Many fans were upset at Spurrier after the deflection into an interception when he appeared to just shut down on the sideline.
The Gamecocks have revamped the phases of the game in which they struggled against everyone last year. The offensive line has new recruits and a new coach. The defense returns strong, and the running game received quite a boost as well.
The Gamecocks win this game at Florida, people will begin to take them more seriously.
The Palmetto Bowl. Last year the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 34-17 in what many people considered a shocker. The Gamecocks played what can be described as easily their most complete game. Now they travel to Death Valley to take on their ultimate rival. Anytime the Gamecocks beat the Tigers the Gamecocks fans leave satisfied, no matter the record to that point. If the Gamecocks have defeated the other four teams on this list, and leave Death Valley victorious their season will have been a success in many minds.
When November 27 winds down and turns into November 28, the Gamecocks, the Gamecock faithful, and the rest of the nation will know where they stand.
Winning these five games will go a long way to getting the Gamecocks to Atlanta in 2010, and to being considered legitimate contenders in 2011.