South Carolina Football: 2009 Season Outlook

Tim PollockSenior Writer ISeptember 2, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 01:  Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks yells to his team against the Tennessee Volunteers during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 1, 2008 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Like any other year, predicting a South Carolina season is like solving a Rubix Cube while blindfolded, underwater, and drunk.

Two years ago, a week after the Gamecocks rose to number six in the country, they lost to Vanderbilt and scored only six points.  

Last year it was a win over Ole Miss—and yet another humbling loss to Vanderbilt.  Not to mention the ugly bowl game loss.

The roller coaster games litter every season’s schedule, and so even with an infusion of young talent and reason to be optimistic, history tells us that South Carolina will win a couple they shouldn’t and lose one or two they have no business losing.

On with the season’s picks: 

September 3 at NC State

Another Thursday night ESPN season opener.  After the Wolfpack was embarrassed and shutout last year, you can bet that they will be ready to play.  But NC State’s recent smack talk has them backed into a corner, allowing South Carolina to play loose.

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The running game comes alive for the Cocks and a big defensive play from a young Carolina defensive back seals the deal.   

My pick:  South Carolina 24, NC State 21 (1-0)

September 12 at Georgia

This game gave me the most trouble to predict, because so many variables will come into play—but the only one that counts is that this game is almost always a low scoring, physical, close game.

In the end, both teams open with a very difficult schedule, but if Georgia loses in Week One—as I suspect they will—I can’t see them going 0-2.  Look for the Dawgs to play hungry.   

My pick:  Georgia 20, South Carolina 17 (1-1)

September 19 vs. Florida Atlantic

FAU has had a good run recently, but they lost a lot of talent from last year.  The Owls still have Rusty Smith, though, and he should have some success against an inexperienced Gamecock secondary. 

Carolina will look ugly in this one but talent will prevail.

My pick:  South Carolina 34, Florida Atlantic 24 (2-1)

September 24 vs. Ole Miss

Thursday nights at Williams-Brice Stadium are electric—and I expect the crowd to be insanely obnoxious for this one. 

Ole Miss got a pass for last year’s loss against Carolina as many people chalked the game up to a letdown after the Rebels’ huge win in the Swamp.

But those people forget that Ole Miss went up 14-3 on Carolina last year before Spurrier made adjustments against his former defensive coordinator, Tyrone Nix. 

If the Head Ball Coach can get Chris Smelley (now a catcher for Alabama) to throw for 327 yards and SEC Player of the Week, something tells me he’ll have some more tricks up his sleeve for Coach Nix this year.

Gamecocks pull off the shocker.   

My pick:  South Carolina 31, Ole Miss 30 (3-1)

October 3 vs. South Carolina State        

South Carolina State’s band will be really good, but that’s about it. 

My pick:  South Carolina 38, SC State 10 (4-1)

October 10 vs. Kentucky

South Carolina and Kentucky have produced some exciting games in recent years—and the Cocks have fared well in those games.  But this is the game that brings Carolina back to reality. 

A heartbreaker at home as Randall Cobb goes off. 

My pick:  Kentucky 24, South Carolina 17 (4-2)

October 17 at Alabama  

Simply put, Alabama’s defense is just too good for the young Gamecock offense.  This one could get ugly. 

A late score makes it look respectable. 

My pick:  Alabama 31, South Carolina 17 (4-3)

October 24 vs. Vanderbilt

It’s no secret that Vanderbilt has owned the Gamecocks the last two years.  But if you can score points against Vandy, good things happen—and I think the young backfield will get it going, especially at home.   

My pick:  South Carolina 30, Vanderbilt 20 (5-3)

October 31 at Tennessee

Who knows what Tennessee will have on the field by this time in the year.  This is a tough pick to make, but you have to like Spurrier’s success when playing in Knoxville.

I like another close one going to the good guys. 

Spurrier and Kiffin to share a post-game hug that will warm your heart. 

My pick:  South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 (6-3)

November 7 at Arkansas

While I’m not sold that Arkansas is the new Ole Miss quite yet, these boys can put up some points, and I expect Ryan Mallett to be in pretty good form by November. 

A young team on the road at Arkansas in what will probably be a terrible time slot equals a sloppy effort and a frustrated Head Ball Coach. 

Lots of big plays for the Hogs, and lots of stupid penalties and mistakes for the Cocks. 

My pick:  Arkansas 40, South Carolina 24 (6-4)

November 14 vs. Florida

Tebow’s last SEC game?  Yeah...I’m going with Florida in this one. 

My pick:  Florida 45, South Carolina 13 (6-5)

November 28 vs. Clemson

Call it a homer pick, but I’m not feeling Clemson this year.  I think the difference in this game is quarterback play—and I like Garcia to step up big in his first real shot against Clemson.

And I’m thinking Dabo Swinney will be wearing a grey sweatshirt—just a hunch. 

My pick:  South Carolina 31, Clemson 27 (7-5)