Week 5: Kentucky

It is obvious at this point that this year’s version of the Gamecocks is not a very good football team. Last week was one of the all-time worst offensive performances, and the defense has been incredibly inconsistent. Kentucky has beaten the Gamecocks 5 years in a row. Some of those losses were to superior Kentucky football teams, others were due to SC playing well below their potential. I can’t remember the last time the Gamecocks looked ready to play for a big night kick-off game at Williams-Brice, and this is one of the lowest energy teams I have ever seen. Despite that the Gamecocks find themselves favored by 3 points. Apparently the Kentucky QB situation is in pretty bad shape, and they can’t kick a field goal. Against my better judgement I’m picking the Gamecocks in this one.

Prediction: USC 28 - Kentucky 21. Mrs. Teriyaki Chicken has the Gamecocks winning 35 - 24.

Week 4: Missouri

The Mayor’s Cup is on the line in a burgeoning SEC East rivalry that has been fairly competitive. The Gamecocks have won three straight in the series, and are 5 - 2 since Missouri joined the conference in 2012. Missouri has generally been a good team over the course of a full season the past few years, but hasn’t been anything near consistent during the season (i.e. losses to Middle Tennessee, Purdue, and Wyoming). In terms of recruiting the Tigers have ranked 43rd, 43rd, 43rd, and 37th over the past 4 years. I’m not sure if that means that recruits from that region are underrated by the recruiting services or whether Missouri is really good at developing talent, because they certainly have outperformed those rankings. Still, I was surprised to see the line open at Mizzou -10. There is a high probability that the Vegas guys know more than me and Missouri is that much of a better team than SC, but I just don’t see it. In a rainy and quiet stadium I expect the Gamecock’s superior ground game to be the difference in this one.

Prediction: USC 38 - Missouri 31. Mrs. Teriyaki Chicken has it as 35 - 32 good guys.

Week 3: Alabama

Here’s some amazing facts about the South Carolina - Alabama series:

  • Since joining the SEC in ‘92, South Carolina has winning records against 2 teams from the SEC-West: Mississippi State (9 - 7) and Alabama (4 - 3). If Alabama didn’t get caught cheating about every 10 years that record would be 3-5, however (‘93 win forfeited, ‘05 win vacated).

  • The last win on the record books in Columbia for Alabama (taking into account the forfeited/vacated wins) is way back in 1946.

  • South Carolina is the last team from the SEC-East to beat Alabama and the only one with an active winning streak.

I expect all three of those facts to become invalid tomorrow. The 2010 team that ate Alabama’s lunch had 2 future pro-bowlers on the roster (Gilmore and Ingram) and were only something like 7 or 7.5-point underdogs. The line on this game is Alabama by 25.5 points, and for very good reasons. The Gamecocks just don’t have enough juice on offense to score much against Saban’s defense, which will confuse an inexperienced QB and Offensive Line. I expect Hilinski to throw at least 2 interceptions in the game. We can’t tackle well enough in the secondary to stop Alabama’s receivers, so it won’t matter much that Alabama’s running game has been somewhat worse than usual so far this season. A successful outing for the Gamecocks means showing some fight and keeping the game competitive, while getting to Sunday without any major injuries.

Prediction: South Carolina 20 - Alabama 48. Mrs. Teriyaki Chicken is more bullish on the Gamecock offense and has it as 35 - 42.

Week 1: North Carolina

Five years ago the worst South Carolina team since ‘99 handed the best North Carolina team since ‘97 their only regular season loss of the season. Gamecocks can thank Skai Moore’s 2 interceptions in the end zone for that one. North Carolina leads the overall series 34 - 19 - 4, but the Gamecocks are 12 - 4 since ‘67 and have won 6 of the last 7. The last time the Tarheels snagged a win was back in ‘91. When speaking about football, ‘Carolina’ refers to South Carolina.

On paper South Carolina should be much improved this season, particularly on defense. Depth and talent is present on the DL, new blood in the linebacking corps has boosted that position, and everyone in the secondary is currently healthy. North Carolina is debuting a 68-year old retread at head coach and a true freshman QB. The coordinator hires were top notch (Longo and Bateman), but this team has only won 5 games the past 2 years. The reports from NC pre-season scrimmages are that this team has looked like absolute garbage. This should be a perfect opportunity for Will Muschamp to lay a complete beat-down on an inferior opponent, but the results of the last meeting against a mediocre ACC team gives one ample reason to doubt. I think the Gamecocks are finally ready to put it all together, however, and make a statement in this one.

Prediction: South Carolina 38 - North Carolina 13. Mrs. Teriyaki Chicken has it as 35 - 25 Gamecocks.

2019 Season Preview

Football season is here again. Due to a combination of life events, age, distance, and the Gamecocks getting blanked by Virginia in the Belk Bowl, this was probably the least excited I have ever been in the off-season. Having said that, I think this is probably the best team SC will field since 2013. It likely won’t matter much though, as this is the likely the most difficult schedule in the history of the program. Hopefully the Gamecocks will finally be able to win one or two games that they shouldn’t.

Game by Game Predictions

  • North Carolina - W

  • Charleston Southern - W

  • Alabama - L

  • @ Missouri - L

  • Kentucky - W

  • @ Georgia - L

  • Florida - W

  • @ Tennessee - W

  • Vanderbilt - W

  • Appalachian State - W

  • @ Texas A&M - L

  • Clemson - L

I’ve got us at 7-5. I struggled picking a loss against Missouri, but although I think that is a game the Gamecocks should win, I just don’t see us going 8-4 against this schedule and it seems a lot of our past wins against Missouri have required divine assistance. I think Florida doesn’t have the depth to get through the season and will start struggling around halfway through, so I have SC winning what should be a toss-up. If the Gamecocks can get above 0.500 with a win against one of the teams they had no business beating, that should be considered a successful season.

Go Cocks.

Week 13: Clemson

Not much to say about this one, unfortunately. The Gamecocks are missing the two best players on Defense, Bryson Allen-Williams and D.J. Wonnum, and the secondary is still injury-riddled beyond all reasonable expectations. With their talent at the skill positions Clemson will be able to get the ball in space and score on nearly every possession. The good news is that the Offense has a chance to at least score some points this year.

I hate picking against the Gamecocks in this game above all others, but while Muschamp is doing a great job closing the talent gap, SC is still just too far away.

Prediction: USC 31 - Clemson 52. Miss Teriyaki Chicken is the optimist again, and has the Gamecocks winning 35 - 33.

Week 11: Florida

After winning consecutive games for the first time this season the Gamecocks are heading down to the Swamp this week to take on a struggling Florida team that is going to be trying to avoid it’s third straight loss. At this point in the season these two programs appear to be heading in opposite directions, in more ways than just the win column. Feleipe Franks has been atrocious this year, and rumor is that everyone associated with the Gators hate him, staff especially. Word is that a fight broke out in the locker room after Franks was laughing after the beatdown at the hands of Missouri, a game in which Franks was benched and then vastly outperformed by his back-up. Kyle Trask was on track to start this week, but will be out for the rest of the season after breaking his foot in practice, so the Gators appear to be stuck with Franks. It will be interesting to see how well the team plays for an increasingly unpopular QB. The Gamecocks have their own injury issues to deal with at Safety, but fortunately Franks hasn’t been accurate enough to be able to take advantage of that.

Florida is somehow ranked #15 this week. Vegas has the Gators favored by 6, but almost every single media projection I’ve seen has picked the Gamecocks in this one. I am as well.

Prediction: USC 27 - Florida 24. Miss Teriykai Chicken has the Gamecocks winning 35-28. After witnessing the past two games in person, I’m back in Tokyo this week and plan to use my lingering jet lag to wake up for this 2AM kickoff tonight. Go Cocks.

Week 10: Ole Miss

South Carolina and Ole Miss have amazingly only played each other 6 times since SC entered the SEC in 1992. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference in 2012 those meetings have become even less frequent, with the last trip to Oxford for the Gamecocks occurring a full ten years ago. The infrequency of this game is one of the main reasons I decided to get on a plane a little more than a week ago. I do not believe I was alone in my desire to make this road trip. Judging my the amount of garnet of black I witnessed in Memphis yesterday and in Oxford this afternoon, I expect the Gamecocks to have a good crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium tomorrow.

Get ready for some points in this one. The Ole Miss Rebel ….. Landsharks (???) have a very potent Offense that includes one of the best WRs in the SEC, one of the best O-lines, and a very mobile QB. They are only averaging 19 points per game against SEC opponents, however, and calling their defense hot garbage would be an insult to whatever was residing in the dumpster behind the Chili’s on Harbison Blvd back in August. The Gamecocks should find success both running and throwing the ball, but Ole Miss will get their points as well. I think the Gamecock Defense gets just a few more stops than Ole MIss and will fly back to Columbia with their first consecutive win of the season.

Prediction: USC 38 - Ole MIss 31. Miss Teriyaki Chicken calls it as 32 - 28 from Armenia.

Ohh, what could have been…….

Tennessee Victory Tour 2018

After witnessing the Gamecocks beat Tennessee for the first time in person, the family and I packed up our bags and embarked on a victory tour through the entire state of Tennessee, wearing nothing but South Carolina Gamecocks apparel the entire way. We crossed the border south of Chattanooga on Monday, and yesterday afternoon stood on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. A greater act of savage brutality has not been visited upon the peoples of Tennessee since the days of General Ulysses S. Grant.

A nice dusk view of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

We also took the time the march directly through the middle of the Vanderbilt campus while covered head-to-toe in garnet and black. I attempted to lock eyes with as many people as possible.

Just inside these gates 22 chalk body outlines were still visible weeks after the Gamecocks had departed.

We finally completed our march of psychological destruction yesterday, and then went to eat some ribs.

The Mississippi River in Memphis, edge of the state of Tennessee.

Great state, this Tennessee. I hear there’s no state income taxes. Well, there’s no wins against the Gamecocks this year, either. Go Cocks.

Week 9: Tennessee

Prior to the 2008 season, SC’s record against Tennessee was 3-21-2. Since then the Gamecocks have turned the tables on the Vols and won 6 of the past 10 (and should have won 3 more). As a result of that previously abysmal record, circumstances, and a relocation to Japan, it turns out that I have never actually witnessed a Gamecock victory over Tennessee in person. So I got on a plane a few days ago to remedy that situation. I’ve therefore got a lot invested in the Gamecocks showing up to play later today.

I think South Carolina has the better team, and Vegas seems to agree, as they have the Gamecocks as more than 7-point favorites. SC finally gets D.J. Wonnum back, and I’m excited to see what kind of impact he can have on the Defense. The Tennessee O-line has been atrocious, and they’ll be missing their best player in Trey Smith. QB Jarrett Guarantano might possibly be out of this game with injury. I just don’t think think Tennessee will have enough to beat a rested South Carolina team at night at Williams-Brice, and I’ll finally get to see a win over the Volunteers as SC takes their 3rd game in a row in the series.

Prediction: USC 31 - Tennessee 20. Miss Teriyaki Chicken, who is currently in Azerbaijan for some reason, has the Gamecocks winning 38 - 17.

Cesar Sayoc - Bomber, Clemson Fan

What’s the worst crime, trying to (allegedly) blow up 13 public figures with pipe bombs, being over-the-top intense about soccer and/or Donald Trump, or being a fan of the Clemson Tigers? I believe most will agree that the latter is by far the worst offense of the three, as being a fan of such a team necessitates crimes against fashion as well. The fact that most of the bombs sent were apparently nonoperational fits it so well with Clemson that the whole thing must be true. One thing is certain: this man is insane.

Read more about Cesar’s Clemson fandom here.

Week 7: Texas A&M

I’ll get right to it: this is not a good match-up for South Carolina. Texas A&M can both run the ball and stop the run, while the Gamecocks can’t do either. Overall the talent on these teams is similar, I just don’t think the Gamecocks have enough in the right places (QB play, receivers catching footballs) to take advantage of A&M’s weakness (defensive secondary). I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Ranked opponent at home? Check. Big recruiting weekend for the Gamecocks? Check. Opponent has a 4-game winning streak? Check. Yeah, until they prove they can handle these situations, I’m not picking SC to win this one.

Prediction: SC 24 - Texas A&M 28. Miss Teriyaki Chicken has it as USC 34 - Texas A&M 31.

USC 37 - Missouri 35: Thoughts on Win #3

Blame it on the Rain (if You’re a Missouri Fan)

This was one of the craziest games I have ever witnessed. The Gamecocks got outplayed in every phase of the game, but unexpectedly had significantly better QB with Michael Scarnecchia filling in for an injured Jake Bentley. They also benefited from a timely monsoon in the 3rd quarter that Missouri was in no way prepared to handle. If I’m not mistaken weather forecasters only gave a 10% chance of rain that day. In my opinion those guys should only have a 10% chance of staying employed. I believe noted Missouri-grad and football statistician Bill Connelly calculated that Gamecocks would only win 4% of time in game with the same stat differentials seen in this one. I’m glad I was able to witness such a rarity.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

After each win I’ll hand out a dozen wings to the players most responsible for the victory.

Michael Scarnecchia

Scarnecchia was calm and collected the entire game and was ready for the chance to lead his team on game-winning drive. 20 of 35, 249 yards, and 3 TDs. He was by far the best QB on the field.

Parker White

Kicked a total of 3 different FGs to give SC the lead, the last of which was for good.

Jaycee Horn

Scarnecchia was the best QB on the field, but Jaycee Horn was the best player on the field.

Bryan Edwards

Had 2 TD catches and several big plays on 3rd down to go along with a 2 bad drops.

Bryson Allen-Williams

3 TFLs including one sack, as well as 2 QB hurries.

Deebo Samuel

Led the team in receiving yards and had a TD reception.

Sherrod Greene

Took advantage of a Drew Lock Meltdown™ for a Pick 6.

That’s all I’ve got for Missouri. Nice win for the Gamecocks that they shouldn’t have gotten.

Week 6: Missouri

After the loss last week to Kentucky for the 5th year in a row, my motivation levels for football are at critically low levels. The optimist in me says that the 2017 version of the Gamecocks lost to Georgia and Kentucky as well, and still won 9 games. Something just feels different about those losses this year though. The word is SC will trot out a new starting quarterback for this game. Normally this would be concerning but given QB and WR play so far this season I’m not sure it will matter too much. The Gamecocks should try to just run the ball this game.

I want to pick SC in this one, but given all the injuries and the play so far this season against any team with a pulse, I just can’t do it. I don’t think the Gamecocks will be able to make enough plays in the Secondary to contain Drew Lock, and I don’t think the Offense has enough juice to keep up.

Prediction: USC 17 - Missouri 31. Miss Teriyaki Chicken thinks the Gamecocks will squeak by 31 - 28.

Week 5: Kentucky

Mark Stoops has done one of the more underrated coaching jobs at Kentucky the past few years. This is starting to change, however, as Kentucky is ranked for the first time since 2007 at #17. Stoops has steadily built up recruiting, mainly by focusing on finding players in Ohio who Ohio State doesn’t want, and has a staff that can obviously develop those guys. Benny Snell, Jr. is a great RB and Kentucky can really run the ball with him. They’re also solid across the board on defense, with one of the SEC’s best defensive players in Josh Allen, and tall, fast guys at corner. This is very likely the best team Kentucky has fielded in my lifetime.

After getting an unexpected win against Mississippi State last week Kentucky players seem to be feeling pretty good about themselves. I think SC is a much more complete team than any they have faced so far, however. The key for SC is to score and put Kentucky in a hole early. That will put the ball game more on Kentucky QB Terry Wilson’s shoulders, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to win with his arm when he has to. Overall, these two teams are very evenly matched, but SC has the better QB and that will make the difference in this one.

Prediction: USC 27 - Kentucky 24. Miss Teriyaki Chicken isn’t as high on the Gamecocks this week, and has it USC 28 - Kentucky 35.

USC 37 - Vanderbilt 14: Thoughts on Win #2

Back on Track

After taking back-to-back losses to Georgia and a hurricane, the Gamecocks went up to Nashville and took care of business in a big way. The 23-point margin of victory was the largest in the series since the Gamecocks won 31 - 6 in Nashville in 2004. Without the two fumbles late in the game (one of those being a questionable call by the officials) in heavy rain after a weather delay, I have no doubt SC could have put half a hundred on the scoreboard. This game was dominated by the Gamecocks in every way possible, but particularly on both lines of scrimmage. The Commodores were held to less than 100 yards rushing and only 284 yards of total offense, while the Gamecocks piled up 273 yards and 534, respectively. The Commodores won’t be confused with a great team like Georgia, but any road win in the SEC is one received gladly.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

After every Gamecock win I’ll hand out a dozen wings to the players most responsible for the victory.

Jake Bentley

261 yards over 28 attempts, with a completion percentage of 67.9%. Got his lone TD pass on a 38-yard strike to Shi Smith on the 4th snap of the game. Had complete control of the offense and made good decisions all night.

Rico Dowdle

Dowdle rushed for 112 yards on 20 carries and absolutely did not fumble the ball near the goal line.

Javon Kinlaw

Kinlaw had one of the most dominating performances on defense that I’ve seen in quite a while.

Shi Smith

Had 119 yards receiving on only 5 catches.

Zack Bailey

You don’t run for 273 yards without great interior OL play. Zack was the best of the bunch.

Bryson Allen-Williams

Led the team in tackles with 7, and also had a TFL and a QB hurry. Was all over the field and affected the game in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Rashad Fenton

Nice pick, bro.

Parker White

White was 3 for 3 on FG attempts, and accounted for 13 total points.

That’s it for the wrap-up of the win against Vanderbilt. Go Cocks.

Week 4: Vanderbilt

After an unexpected bye last week, the Gamecocks are heading up to Nashville for their first road game of the season. The Gamecocks looked great in the first game against a terrible opponent, and looked terrible 2 weeks ago against one of the top three teams in the country. There’s a lot of pessimism lingering around the program after the fans had to stew on the Georgia loss for an extra week. That doesn’t make a lot sense to me as the talent on this team is obvious. They may not be on the level of Georgia, but they’re sure a lot better across the board than Vanderbilt. This team will get a chance later tonight to prove they can beat the teams they’re supposed to beat.

The point spread has SC favored by 2.5 points, which makes sense given how close this series has been the past decade. Vamdy has always played SC close, but the Gamecocks are 23 - 4 against Vanderbilt and have won 9 straight. Vanderbilt is well-coached and has enough to stick around in this game, but I expect the Gamecocks to extend the streak to 10.

Prediction: USC 28 - Vanderbilt 17. Miss Teriyaki Chicken has it as USC 31 - Vanderbilt 28.

See highlights from last year’s game against Vandy below.

Week 2: Georgia

I took a look at the past 8 games in the SC-UGA series a few days ago, but to summarize the Gamecocks are 4 - 4 against Georgia since 2010. I waited too long to start writing this blog, though, as the Dawgs have won 3 straight and I haven't yet been able to hand out any chicken wings for a Gamecocks victory yet. This year is definitely the best chance the Gamecocks have had since 2014, however. Given both teams' issues with experience and / or depth on Defense, the Offense of each team should have an edge. The Bulldogs will try to force the Gamecocks to tackle space, but the good news there is that the Gamecocks were best in the SEC in Week 1 in terms of missed tackles. Overall I think the Gamecocks might have the bigger edge in terms of Offense vs Defense, simply because I don't think Georgia has seen enough to adequately prepare for SC's new Offense.

I know I said just last week that I thought the Gamecocks would lose this one, but after seeing the Offense play even better than I expected against Coastal Carolina I'm going to go with the Gamecocks winning a thriller.

Prediction: USC 34 - Georgia 31. Miss Teriyaki Chicken has it at 28 - 24, Carolina. Go Cocks.

USC 49 - Coastal Carolina 15: Thoughts on Win #1

Finally Dominating an Inferior Opponent

This was a game that in the past few years, and even going back into the Spurrier era, South Carolina would have let a weaker opponent hang around in the game until finally using superior talent to pull away in the 4th Quarter. It was refreshing, therefore, to see such competency, especially on Offense, from the opening kick. The Gamecocks were able to score TDs on 7 of 9 possessions in the game, with the Jake Bentley-led first team Offense scoring on 6 of 7. The Defense was able to hold Coastal to only 238 yards of total offense and 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. That is hard to do regardless of the opponent. Muschamp's teams have always looked well prepared in each of the past two season openers, but it was evident in this one that the overall talent level of the team has certainly been improved. The most noticeable improvement to me was the play of the Offensive Line. According to Pro Football Focus the SC O-line was the best run blocking unit in the nation during the first week of play. We haven't heard anything like that about SC O-line play since maybe 2014. I don't have much else to say about the win; we were supposed to win big and we did. We get to find out very soon if this team is going to compete for the division title.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

After every Gamecocks win I'll hand out a dozen wings to the players most responsible for the victory.

Jake Bentley

Bentley was outstanding, completing 75.9% of his passing attempts for 250 yards and 4 TDs (a career best). Jake looked very confident and appeared to be in complete control of the new-and-improved Offense.

Rico Dowdle

105 yards rushing and a TD on 15 carries? Another TD receiving at the end of the 1st Half? That gets Rico multiple wings.

Deebo Samuel

Deebo Samuel returns and does Deebo Samuel things.

Ty'Son Williams

Rushed for 7.5 yards per attempt and scored a TD.

Michael Scarnecchia

Back when Scarnecchia and I shared some classes together at USC in the early 2000s we used to talk about how great it would be when he finally got some game action and threw his first TD pass. Great job, Mike, you're living the dream.

Jaycee Horn

In his first college game did not look anything like a freshman, and was even able to grab a sack.

Bryan Edwards

Got an easy 24-yard TD reception in the 2nd Quarter.

Bryson Allen-Williams

Accounted for 3 TFLs with a sack in his first game back in action. Instead of a game ball, nearly received Chanticleer QB Kilton Anderson's head as a trophy.

Rosendo Louis

Recovered a fumble on one of his first few snaps as a Gamecock.

Randrecous Davis

The oft injured receiver snagged his first TD reception with a phenomenal catch in the 4th Quarter.

Kiel Pollard

Took his first ball into the end zone on a busted play pass from Bentley.

That's all I've got for the win over the Chanticleers. Watch the game again below.