South Carolina is no longer an SEC punching bag. They have successfully recruited the last four "Mr. Football" winners in their own state instead of watching them commit to their more prestigious conference rivals.
Homegrown football players dot the roste,r but the Gamecocks are now rich enough to lure athletes from all over the country to build this burgeoning program.
The SEC is
the elite conference in college football - with the numbers to prove it. SEC teams have won 7 of the last 9 national titles, invincible defenses being the common denominator. The Gamecocks fit that mold last season, ranking 2nd
against the pass and 11th in points allowed, surrendering only 18.4
points per game with a schedule littered with SEC clashes. The Gamecocks
wound up ranked 9th in the country, there first top ten finish ever.
This season they are gunning for a national championship.
teams have high profile losses every single season, particularly with the NFL
beckoning to its more skilled athletes who leave the college game for the
bright lights and big money of professional football. South Carolina will go to
battle this season with a major piece of their puzzle gone from last season and
he never even strapped on a helmet. Their defensive coordinator and architect
of SC's brilliant ground and air stop units Ellis Johnson, departed for the top spot at Southern Mississippi.
defensive stalwarts Melvin Ingram and Stephen Gilmore have taken their talents
to the next level while offensive star Alshon Jeffrey is now a member of the
Chicago Bears. Despite these departures, the Gamecocks are getting several
returning starters and some of the cornerstones of last season's success.
Reason to Believe
name that comes to mind when you think of South Carolina Gamecock football is
the electric Marcus Lattimore. Who can forget last season's stunning
performance when he broke a school record in front of his home crowd and chewed
up yardage like a Panzer tank against Navy, amassing 246 yards and scoring three touchdowns. But, the end came abruptly when he tore a knee ligament
against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on October 15th and missed
the rest of the season. He's back this year, however, as a Heisman candidate - that is, if he
can duplicate his past successes.
as Lattimore is, he will need a break and, when he does, Brandon
Wilds will get his turn to make defenses pay. He did an admirable job in relief
of Lattimore last season and he will comprise half of this potent one-two punch. Also,
Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders will be major pieces to the South Carolina air
patrol as well as highly touted freshman Shaq Roland.
JaDeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor will create chaos up front defensively while
returning incumbent quarterback starter Connor Shaw will have a full season to
demonstrate his passing prowess. There is plenty of talent on both sides of the
ball for Steve Spurriers' crew and plenty of hope for a dominating season.
currently has South Carolina at +1250 to win the SEC championship behind
Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas. There is a boatload of talent on those
rosters and, as optimistic as I am for South Carolina this season, I'm not sure
if even 12-1 will be enough for me to back the 'Cocks to win the SEC. However,
I might plunk down a few bucks on South Carolina to win their division, the SEC
East at +225, where there only real competition looks to be Georgia and Florida,
a far cry from the crowded SEC West boasting Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn.
Though I am reluctant to bet South Carolina to
win the SEC, I would be inclined to bet them to win the BCS national
at 46-1 because, if they can win the SEC and get a shot at a BCS
title game, I like those odds.