The South Carolina Gamecocks enter 2012 fall camp as one of the favorites to win the SEC East. The Gamecocks finished the 2011 season with 11 wins, but more importantly, coach Steve Spurrier has gone 8-0 the past two years against Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson. South Carolina has only had one conference championship (ACC title) in more than 100 years of football, but Spurrier is looking to change that. He has recruited at a high level and has consistently sent Gamecock players to the NFL. Playing in the SEC Championship Game in 2010 then following that up in 2011, setting a school record in wins, Spurrier has South Carolina playing at the highest level. 2012 could be even more successful, as the Gamecocks come in with a number nine ranking in the Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Southeastern Conference definitely didn’t hand the Gamecocks any favors in terms of their 2012 schedule. Opening up the season on the road at Vanderbilt is definitely no automatic win. South Carolina then goes home for three straight versus East Carolina, UAB and Missouri, before traveling to Kentucky on September 29. The true test will come starting October 6 when the Georgia Bulldogs come calling on Columbia in what will be the first of a stretch of four straight games that will possibly decide the fate for the 2012 Gamecocks.
The Georgia game, usually played the second week of the season, has now been moved to the second month of the season. This gives both teams more time to prepare for what usually is a close game as three of the last five contests have been decided by four points or less. The move of the game definitely favors the Bulldogs who have some early season suspensions and will be trying to break in two true freshman running backs.
The Gamecocks will then hit the road to Baton Rouge on October 13 to play the defending SEC Champion LSU Tigers. Tiger Stadium is always a tough place to play, and LSU has taken the last two meetings between the teams. LSU returns one of the top offensive lines and the deepest stable of running backs in the country.
The very next week, the Gamecocks must hit the road to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators. South Carolina has taken two straight versus the Gators, but going into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium the week after a trip to Death Valley would be tough for any team.
After back to back SEC road trips, South Carolina will return home on October 27 to face the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols will be coming off a home tilt versus the Alabama Crimson Tide, and one way or another, will be looking to extract revenge after the Gamecocks defeated them 14-3 last season.
The October schedule is brutal for the Gamecocks. If they can somehow protect home field and go on the road and win the game at Florida, they can put themselves in the driver seat in the SEC East.