The last few years have been a series of best-seasons-ever for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks played in their first SEC Championship Game in 2010 recorded 11-2 campaigns in 2011 and '12. This year, Carolina's schedule feels like it has the makings of another 11-2ish season, and if Steve Spurrier's team can rise up in a couple of tough contests, the Gamecocks could make it back to Atlanta to play for their first SEC title.
2013 South Carolina schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
Right off the bat, South Carolina faces a couple of tough tests. The Gamecocks open the season in a Thursday night home game against North Carolina, a team that went 8-4 last year and returns 13 starters. In Week 2, the Gamecocks play Georgia in Athens, where they will either move into the SEC East driver's seat or put themselves in position to play catch-up. It's ridiculous to tab an early-September game as must-win, but the contest against the Bulldogs is as close as it gets.
If Carolina picks up wins in the first two games of the season, there's a good chance the team will roll to a 9-0 record before facing off against Florida on Nov. 16. Vanderbilt should be improved, but the Gamecocks will be favored in a Sept. 14 game against the Commodores. They play three-straight road games in October, but Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri aren't too threatening. The cross-divisional games don't include Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M, which is awfully nice.
In the final month of the year, Carolina hosts Florida in what should be a toss-up game, and closes out the regular season with a home rivalry date against Clemson. While there are a few matchups that will give the Gamecocks trouble, there aren't any that appear to be likely losses. If they bring their A-game every week, it should be another best-season-ever in Columbia.