COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s 2017 football schedule is set following the unveiling of the SEC schedule on Tuesday night.
Now is the perfect time to look ahead at Will Muschamp’s second season.
Here’s a quick look at some of the notable aspects of the schedule, as Muschamp continues to rebuild the Gamecocks program:
Most intriguing matchup
Georgia long had been the season-opening SEC game for the Gamecocks, but that has only happened once since 2011.
It won’t happen in 2017, either, with a Nov. 4 game scheduled. The schools will meet in November for the fourth time.
It also is the latest meeting since a Nov. 18 clash in 1939. It should make for an interesting trip to Athens, Ga.
Florida’s trip to Columbia on Nov. 11 is intriguing because Muschamp’s former team will visit his new stadium for the first time.
Playing at Tennessee always is tough because the environment on Rocky Top is one of the best. The Vols also figure to be solid again in 2017. But it is made tougher for the Gamecocks in 2017 because of the timing.
The trip to Knoxville comes at the end of seven consecutive games to open the season. It also caps a difficult stretch with games at Texas A&M and against Arkansas. Teams rarely are healthy after seven consecutive games, and the Gamecocks likely won’t be. All those factors make the trip to Tennessee on Oct. 14 a tough matchup.
The trip to Georgia and the season finale against Clemson are strong candidates for the toughest game as well.
The answer is, of course, Wofford. The Gamecocks play the FCS school on Nov. 18. Louisiana Tech is the next logical choice.
But it’s worth noting Vanderbilt in this discussion. The Gamecocks ideally would have a bye week before playing at Georgia or at Tennessee. Instead, they received their off week before Vanderbilt travels to Columbia on Oct. 28.
Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Missouri all are candidates for the easiest game in SEC play. The edge goes to Vanderbilt for two reasons: It’s a home game for the Gamecocks, and it comes after the bye.
South Carolina had one SEC win in 2015, which came against Vanderbilt, and defeated the Commodores to open the 2016 season.
South Carolina has two tough stretches, one spanning the end of September into mid-October and the other spanning November.
But the streak of playing at Texas A&M, against Arkansas and at Tennessee is the tougher of the two. The three-game run features two challenging road games and a matchup against what should be a tough Arkansas team as the Razorbacks return to the schedule.
Having a road trip to Georgia and hosting Florida and Clemson in November makes for a tough run as well.
South Carolina opens the 2017 season with a neutral-site game at Bank of America Stadium again. That meeting against N.C. State on Sept. 2 is the first of four games that should be winnable to start the 2017 season.
The Gamecocks play two of the lower-tier SEC teams in the weeks after their opener (on Sept. 9 at Missouri and on Sept. 16 against Kentucky). They wrap up the first third of the season with a nonconference meeting against Louisiana Tech.
The Gamecocks could enter the toughest stretch of their schedule with a 4-0 record. They should be no worse than 2-2.