COLUMBIA, S.C. – Will Muschamp has talked about winning now since he arrived at South Carolina. There just hasn’t been a whole lot of it so far, which was more the realistic expectation going into Muschamp’s first season at South Carolina.
But the Gamecocks aren’t shying away from setting winning goals after a 2-4 start. They’re talking about a bowl game now, with Muschamp leading the charge.
“I talk to our guys all the time, our seniors want to go to a bowl game,” Muschamp said. “That’s very important for our program. Most important thing is for our seniors.”
The pursuit of a flipping their win-loss record in the second half begins Saturday against Massachusetts (12:01 p.m. ET, SEC Network). It’s the type of game that USC has to win if it wants a chance to reach the 6-win threshold to secure a bowl game, which will take a 4-2 second half.
The Gamecocks are looking at their record as 0-0 after a bye week that came as the perfect midpoint to the season that needed a reset button.
“We had some time off with the bye week,” senior defensive end Darius English said. “We talked about how the first half of the season went and what we can do to get better to turn things around.”
Said offensive lineman Zack Bailey: “It’s time for a fresh start and to get back up on our feet.”
The turnaround has to come quickly because the schedule presents more obstacles in chasing a bowl game. The Gamecocks will play three games in the final month of the season against teams currently ranked in the Top 25: No. 18 Tennessee, No. 15 Florida and No. 4 Clemson.
“We have some tough teams coming up, but it doesn’t matter,” Bailey said. “I think we are going to go out there and try our best every single game, especially with how practices have been going lately. I think we are very capable.”
South Carolina has three games remaining that appear winnable: UMass on Saturday, as well as a game against Missouri next week and a meeting with FCS opponent Western Carolina in late November. But in addition to sweeping those three, the Gamecocks still will need to win one of the three games against a currently ranked opponent if they want to be playing in December.
“I think we can play with anybody,” junior safety D.J. Smith said. “I think there are just a couple plays in the game that we slip up and it costs us the game. I feel like if we just get rid of those, we are going to be fine. We have been playing with Top 10 teams in the country. I feel like we are fine.”
The Gamecocks had a seven-year bowl streak snapped last season after a 3-9 campaign that saw coach Steve Spurrier quit. Starting a new streak and getting back in the postseason is on their minds now.
“The first half is over with,” Smith said. “We’ve gotta move on from the first six games. Now, we’ve just gotta focus on winning these next six and obviously make a bowl.
“That’s what they’ve been preaching. Right now, it’s beat UMass and move on from there.”