Losing in embarrassing fashion to a Johnny Manziel-less Texas A&M squad in week one should be enough to light a fire under Steve Spurrier‘s South Carolina Gamecocks for the remainder of the season. Opening the year with an 0-1 record in conference and overall isn’t something that is considered “acceptable” for the program.
Coming off a 10-win season, the East Carolina Pirates could make a big splash once again and they could use a huge week two upset to catapult them into a dream season. Winning big in week one was no surprise, but a tough test against a ranked foe could be just what East Carolina needs to become college football’s next Cinderella story.
While it looked like South Carolina should drop completely out of the rankings after an embarrassing home loss, the Gamecocks have the rest of the season to prove they belong in the Top 25. It was a tough go of things for the Gamecocks, but first-year starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, who is replacing the departed Connor Shaw, had a solid week one performance. Thompson completed 50 percent of his passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Nick Jones, his top target, helped him out tremendously, making good use of his five catches which accounted for 113 yards and two scores. The rushing attack was basically a non-factor as the Gamecocks finished with just 67 yards on the ground.
East Carolina, as stated earlier, is coming off a big week one victory as well as a 10-win season in 2013. The Pirates are out to prove something to the rest of the nation and they will get their chance on the road in South Carolina. Quarterback Shane Carden is expecting big things this season as many see his strong arm leading the Pirates to many wins. Carden finished the week one victory with 283 yards and three touchdowns on 26 of 37 passing. His top target all day long was Isaiah Jones who had 10 catches for an impressive 150 yards and a touchdown while Justin Hardy added eight catches for 87 yards and two scores. The run game was effective as well as Marquez Grayson led the way with seven carries for 78 yards and Anthony Scott had seven for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Pirates had a pretty simple time of keeping NC Central‘s offense in check as they held their opponent to just 174 total yards. East Carolina allowed just 4.7 yards per pass and 2.3 yards per rush throughout the entire game — not too shabby. South Carolina, on the other hand, struggled mightily on defense, allowing 680 total yards. The main area of disappointment came against the pass as the Gamecocks allowed 511 yards through the air to a first-year starter.
East Carolina will travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 6. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN 2 and ESPNU.
PREDICTION: East Carolina 21, South Carolina 37
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.