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.

South Carolina vs. Georgia: 2010 - 2017

With the big game against Georgia coming up this weekend, I thought it would be good to review the recent history of the series. Since meeting for the first time on the football field in 1894, the two teams have played a total of 70 games, with Georgia leading the series 50-18-2. Georgia's star has risen quite dramatically the past year, but most people likely don't realize that the teams have split the last eight games. The Bulldogs have only won once at Williams-Brice during that span. Below is a summary of the past eight match-ups.

2010: #24 South Carolina 17 - #22 Georgia 6

The first in a run of three consecutive wins by the Gamecocks in the series saw South Carolina dominating on both sides of the ball and holding a lead the entire game. The Gamecock Defense held Georgia to only 253 yards and two field goals, while true Freshman Marcus Lattimore pounded Georgia on the ground. Lattimore had 182 yards rushing with 2 TDs on 37 carries in the game, and a star was born.

Full Game:

2011: #12 South Carolina 45 - Georgia 42

This game was a back-and-forth affair that featured 7 lead changes, 2 defensive scores for SC, and a Melvin Ingram 68-yard rushing TD on a fake punt. Melvin Ingram accounted for 2 total TDs on the day, as he picked up a fumble caused by true Freshman Jadaveon Clowney tossing Aaron Murray like a rag doll in his second ever game as a Gamecock. Marcus Lattimore continued to dominate the Dawgs with 176 yards rushing and a TD on 27 carries.

Full Game:

2012: #6 South Carolina 35 - #5 Georgia 7

One of my favorite games of all time, and one of the biggest games in the history of South Carolina football. I re-watch this one at least four times a year. ESPN Gameday was on campus, the game was televised on the prime-time ABC slot with the #1 broadcast crew, and the combined ranking of each team was the highest it had ever been in the series. The Gamecocks were up 21 - 0 before the of 1st Quarter, and they probably could have won this one 70 - 0 if they wanted to. Lattimore cemented his legacy as the Dawg-killer with 109 yards rushing and 1 TD on 24 carries. The Dawgs were shell-shocked by the atmosphere in Williams-Brice that day. I truly believe that the way that South Carolina team played on that specific night they couldn't have beaten any national championship team from the past two decades. Georgia would go on to lose only one more game in the 2012 season, a narrow loss in the final seconds to eventual national champion Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. South Carolina would drop the next two games after this one in road trips to #9 LSU and #3 Florida. Fun fact: my dad was on the field pre-game to receive the ceremonial game-ball, and keeps it in a glass case at home.

Highlights:

Highlights:

Full Game:

2013: #11 Georgia 41 - #6 South Carolina 30

A strong performance by the South Carolina Offense was not enough to overcome a career game from Aaron Murray, who threw for 309 yards and 4 TDs. This was the Gamecocks' first loss in Athens since 2009 and the Bulldogs' largest margin of victory against SC since 2006.

Highlights:

Full Game:

2014: #24 South Carolina 38 - #6 Georgia 35

After a long lightning delay, a South Carolina team that would end up having one of the best Offenses in school history under the leadership of Dylan Thompson and a post-Clowney Defense that couldn't hold onto 4th Quarter leads would take advantage of a dominating 2nd Half performance by the OL and a missed 28-yard FG attempt by Georgia to steal a win from the Dawgs. This would be the definite high point for a South Carolina team that would finish the regular season 6 - 6.

Highlights:

Full Game:

2015: #7 Georgia 52 - South Carolina 20

Inattention to recruiting finally caught up to the Gamecocks in 2015 and resulted in a team that was completely out-manned by a 10-win Georgia team that would fire their coach at the end of the season to prevent SC from hiring Kirby Smart. The Gamecocks would start former walk-on Perry Orth at QB in this one. Steve Spurrier would only coach three more games for the Gamecocks.

(Georgia) Highlights:

2016: Georgia 28 - South Carolina 14

With new head coaches the two old rivals met for the first time ever on Sunday in a half-empty Williams-Brice stadium after the game was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The two teams would combine for 12 losses in 2016, making this match-up decidedly mediocre. Georgia returned an on-side kick for a TD in the final minutes to make the margin of victory double-digits.

Full Game:

2017: #2 Georgia 24 - South Carolina 10

An improving but injury-riddled South Carolina team gave the best Georgia team in at least three decades one of it's more physical contests in 2017. The talent gap was apparent from the opening (on-side) kick-off, but the Gamecocks showed they weren't intimidated by #2 team in the nation.

Highlights:

2018 Season Preview

Wow, that was a long offseason. After the comeback victory against Michigan to end the season in January and all the positive stories over the Spring and Summer, my anticipation level hasn't been this high since maybe 6:59AM JST, August 29, 2014. Deebo is back. Javon Kinlaw showed up to pre-season camp looking like he does in the image below. Kurt Roper is living somewhere in Colorado. It's time for some Gamecock football!

Expectations among South Carolina fans for this year's team are fairly high. Vegas isn't buying the hype, however, and has set the over/under for season win totals at 7. Bill Connelly isn't buying the hype either, and for that matter neither is Pat Forde. I'm on the record as being optimistic about the amount of improvement the Offense can achieve this season, and am projecting a statistically unique performance. As for the Defense, I think T-Rob and Muschamp will have this unit performing well enough to give us a chance to win most games. Muschamp has upgraded talent on both sides of the ball to the point where I believe our starting 22 can stand toe-to-toe with nearly everyone in college football. We still are perilously thin at multiple positions, however, and will need to depend on newcomers extensively in the two-deep.

Game by Game Predictions

Here's how I see the season playing out:

  • Coastal Carolina - W
  • Georgia - L
  • Marshall - W
  • @ Vanderbilt - W
  • @ Kentucky - W
  • Missouri - W
  • @ Texas A&M - L
  • Tennessee- W
  • @ Ole Miss- W
  • @ Florida - W
  • Chattanooga - W
  • @ Clemson - L

So, I've got us at 9-3 (6-2 SEC). As far as schedules go, it doesn't get much better for an SEC team than this. I would prefer to swap out Ole Miss for Arkansas of course, but drawing them is better than pulling Alabama, Auburn, LSU, or Mississippi State. I wanted to project 10 wins for the this team, but I just can't trust them to not have at least one stupid loss (i.e. any loss to Kentucky ever). I am really optimistic that the Gamecocks can get a win against the Bulldogs in Week 2, and I migh end up projecting it that way next week, but basic logic tells me this isn't really likely. Until SC actually gets a win against A&M, I'm going to project that game as a loss. Tennessee might actually be worse than they were last year, and while I think Dan Mullen with have Florida back to elite status sooner rather than later, they won't have the quarterback play or the defense this year to beat the Gamecocks. The big trap game in the schedule is Marshall. They have a very good defense, and win or lose, there could be some emotional exhaustion following the big Georgia game.

Other Predictions

All, some, or none of this will happen:

  • The passing game will be much more explosive. One of the nation's best and deepest WR corps will generate two 1,000 receivers (Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards) and Jake Bentley will be selected as an All-SEC quarterback.
  • Deebo Samuel will score at least 20 TDs, in at least 3 different ways.
  • The player missed most on Defense will be Dante Sawyer. As a reserve player last year, he tied for first in the nation with an absurd 5 forced fumbles. For every tackle he made in 2017, he forced 0.263 fumbles. Insane. As a result of his absence the Defense will force fewer turnovers than they did in 2017.
  • South Carolina will have two players rush for over 800 yards (Rico Dowdle and Ty'Son Williams).
  • The Gamecocks will finish 2nd in the SEC East.
  • South Carolina's Offense will be a Top 40 Offense in the FBS, and will average about 32 PPG.

Superlatives

  • Offensive MVP: Deebo Samuel
  • Offensive Breakout Player: Shi Smith
  • Best Offensive Newcomer: Josh Vann
  • Most Improved Offensive Player: Ty'Son Williams
  • Defensive MVP: Javon Kinlaw
  • Defensive Breakout Player: Javon Kinlaw
  • Best Defensive Newcomer: Jaycee Horn
  • Most Improved Defensive Player: Jamyest Williams
  • Stephen Garcia Team Leadership Award: T.J. Brunson

Should be a great season. Go Cocks.

Expectations for the Gamecock Offense in 2018

There's a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the South Carolina Offense in 2018. Dan Werner was hired as QB coach. The Gamecocks may actually commit to running a tempo-based system under Bryan McClendon. The O-line (especially the inside positions) should be beefier and more experienced, helping the run game. Oh, and some guy named Deebo Samuel is back. A preponderance of evidence suggests that indeed the Gamecocks will put more points on the scoreboard this coming season. But what does the recent history of college football have to say about the magnitude of that improvement? I took Points per Game (PPG) data for every FBS team for the past four season (2014 - 2017) and used that to look at year-over-year change for each team. This won't be very useful in making a prediction about the specific PPG totals we can expect from the Gamecocks in 2018, but it should be very informative for creating some boundaries around expectations.

FBS Points per Game

Let's start with taking a look at the raw data for the entire FBS in the table below. (Note: I removed UAB and Coastal Carolina from the main body of the data due to both of those teams entering FBS in 2017. The data for those two teams is displayed at the bottom, and included in the average values for 2017).

  • In 2017 South Carolina was 97th out of 130 teams with a PPG figure of 23.7. This putrid output was amazingly 4.9 PPG above the total for 2016, in which the Gamecocks finished 118th out of 128.
  • Overall average PPG numbers for FBS teams are very consistent year-over-year. The average PPG over the past four season is 28.2 PPG, so the Gamecocks have another 4.5 PPG improvement to go just to match the 4-year FBS average.
  • If a team wants to be in the Top 40 in PPG in a given year, it needs to score more than 31 PPG. In 2018 South Carolina probably needs to improve their total by at least 8 PPG to be Top 40 scoring team.
  • The average year-over-year change in PPG over the past three season is -0.1 PPG. This basically represents no change overall, as you would expect given the stability in average PPG over the past four seasons. Teams realized decreases in their PPG totals 195 times over the past three season, while increases were seen 189 times.

To better visualize the data, I've rounded each team's year-over-year change in PPG to the nearest integer, and plotted the frequency of occurrence in Figure 1 below. 

Figure 1. Frequency of changes in PPG year-over-year for FBS teams from 2015 to 2017, with changes in PPG being rounded to the nearest integer.

  • As seen in Figure 1, the data forms a classic normal distribution curve around the mean average near zero. What's interesting, however, is the relatively few number of teams that realized little to no change in their PPG in a given year. Teams were much more likely to improve by 1 or 2 points or regress by 1-3 points than they were to have no change in PPG.
  • As seen at the bottom of the table above, the standard deviation of the entire 3-year range of PPG changes is 7.2. Combined with the mean, this means that in any given year, 68.27% of FBS teams will have PPG totals between -7.2 PPG below to 7.1 above their PPG totals from the previous year.
  • For the sake of example let's say I expect the Gamecocks to be in the Top 40 in PPG in 2018. We said earlier that to do this they would likely need to improve their PPG number by at least 8 PPG from the 23.7 PPG they achieved in 2017. Based on the past three years of yearly PPG change data in the FBS, we can expect only 13%, or about 17 out of 130 FBS teams, to be able increase their totals by this much. Impossible for the Gamecocks to pull off? Not at all, but as we can see from the probabilities, not very likely either.
  • Keep in mind that the Gamecocks have certainly been on the flip-side of this, however. In 2015 South Carolina scoring dropped a full 10 PPG from the 31.9 PPG achieved in 2014. Based on the distribution you'd only expect 8.3%, or 11 out of 130 teams, to decrease their scoring by 10 or more PPG in any given year. So the Gamecocks have certainly achieved unlikely feats related to scoring in the recent past.

Power Five Points per Game

For the sake of thoroughness I've decided to do the same analysis above, but for Power Five teams only. My assumption is that yearly performance by teams in Power Five conferences are generally more consistent overall given their ability to maintain quality depth better than smaller schools. This means I think it is more difficult to improve scoring when competing in a Power Five conference. You can see the raw data for just the Power Five teams in the table below.

  • South Carolina was 52nd out of 65 Power Five teams in scoring in 2017.
  • The mean Power Five PPG since 2014 is more than a point higher than that of the full FBS roster of teams at 29.3 PPG.
  • In terms of average year-over-year change in scoring, this figure was slightly more negative for Power Five teams, with an average of -0.3 PPG per year.

Figure 2. Frequency of changes in PPG year-over-year for Power Five teams from 2015 to 2017, with changes in PPG being rounded to the nearest integer.

  • With only around half the number of data points used for the analysis on the FBS, the normal distribution evident in Figure 2 is 'lumpier' and not as symmetrical as that seen in Figure 1, but the shape is unmistakable nonetheless.
  • No Power Five team has improved their scoring by more than 15.4 PPG since 2015 (Arizona 2017, Missouri 2016).
  • With a smaller standard deviation of 6.8 PPG, the overall magnitude of changes in scoring for Power Five teams can be expected to be lower.
  • Based on three years worth of Power Five data, only 11.2%, or about 7 out of 65 Power Five teams, can be expected to improve their scoring by 8 or more PPG in a given year. If you lower the bar to an increase of 7 PPG, 14.2%, or about 9 teams, can be expected to pull that off.
  • Statistical probability estimates that only 7.9% of teams would be expected to shrink their scoring by 10 or more PPG in a given year. Over a three year period, this works out to about 15.3 occurrences amongst the Power Five. As discussed above, South Carolina achieved this feat once over the past three years, and was one of exactly 15 teams to do so.

Conclusions

Here are some final thoughts on this:

  • I would expect close to 70% of college football teams to stay within one TD of their 2017 scoring average in 2018.
  • Only about 9 Power Five teams will be able to improve upon their 2017 scoring by 7 or more PPG. 7 teams will improve by 8 or more.
  • Given all the positives going for SC on Offense heading into 2018, will the Gamecocks make it to the Top 40 by adding at least 8 PPG to their average scoring? I think they've got a better chance than most of being one of the 7 teams to improve by the amount necessary.
    • Deebo Samuel demonstrated in 2.5 games last year that he's probably worth at least one extra TD per game all by himself.
    • Running more plays equals more points. It also means more possession for the opponent, so expect Defense to potentially take a step backwards.
    • Factoring in the schedule, the Gamecocks theoretically have the ability to increase average scoring for the year by up to 2.7 PPG just by replacing NC State with Coastal Carolina to open the season (would need to hang 70 on the Chanticleers to do so).
    • Marshall has a tough defense though, and the Gamecocks will have to replace three defensive scores last year against rotating SEC West opponent Arkansas in an away match-up with Ole Miss.
    • My general opinion concerning the SEC East is that defenses overall will take a step back due to loss of talent. This is backed up by not much other than casual observation of other teams in the division.
  • All things considered, put me down for expecting the Gamecocks to be one of the rare teams to achieve more than a TD worth of improvement in PPG and barely eke out a Top 40 finish in Scoring Offense.

Wins & Recruiting

Last year I took a look at how South Carolina recruiting has stacked up against the rest of the SEC East and Clemson. I wanted to take it a step further by expanding the list of teams to include the entire SEC and ACC and look at how recruiting is affected by wins in previous years. This grouping basically includes all the major programs in the Southeast, and typically accounts for ~50% of the Top 25 in the recruiting rankings in a given year. The general belief in college football is that the rich get richer, and that recruiting acts as a positive feedback loop, i.e. more wins lead to better recruits which lead to even more wins. In reality recruiting is affected by a variety of factors. Some teams have more tradition, some schools are in regions with better demographics and access to top talent, and some teams are known to flat out cheat more than others. A splashy new coaching hire can also bring immediate benefits on the recruiting trail. All these other factors are hard to quantify, but win totals are readily available, so let's see what we can discern with those.

The rankings I used this time are the team composite rankings from 247 Sports, which are generally considered to be the most accurate as they pool data from multiple scouting services. I went back as far as I could (the year 2000), at which point the rankings are a bit wonky and max out at 44. For the analysis below I only used recruiting rankings from 2002 onward as those appear to be reliable from that point. Here's some other notes about the data:

  • Teams included are all SEC and ACC teams as those conferences are currently constituted. So all years for Texas A&M, Missouri, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburg, Syracuse, and Louisville are all included despite those teams being in other conferences for a portion of the years being reviewed. That also means no Maryland.
  • Years 2003 and 2004 only had 11 regular season games, as they were sandwiched between the 2-year trial of 12 games in 2001 and 2002 and college football officially moving to a 12-game regular season from 2006.
  • I looked up the RGB and Hex values for the set of official team colors for every team, and used those to customize the markers for the data points in the charts below. As you can imagine, this took quite a bit of effort and a not insignificant amount of time to accomplish. To save space and make each chart more legible I've included a single legend for each data point in Figure 1 below. Please refer to this when looking at the following charts.

Figure 1. Legend showing all teams included in the following charts and their associated marker using official team colors.

Preceding Year Wins and Recruiting

I believe the prevailing thinking amongst college football fans and pundits is that a winning (or losing) season leads to an immediate impact on the recruiting trail, so in Figure 2 below I've plotted the 247 Composite Team Rankings against each team's win total for the year immediately prior. Figure 3 shows the same data, but is more narrowly focused by showing only teams with Top 25 recruiting rankings.

Figure 2. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year.

  • There's currently 65 'Power Five' teams in existence, so the worst you'd ever really expect a team from the SEC or ACC to finish is around 65th in the recruiting rankings. There are some notable exceptions (looking at you, Kentucky and Wake Forest), but you can certainly see a ceiling around 65 in the data.
  • As you'd expect, no team that has a 13+ wins in this group finished outside of the Top 20 in recruiting. On the other side, no team that had 2 wins or less finished inside the Top 20.
  • Apart from that, there's not really a clearly evident trend here. You can win between 3 and 11 games and end up anywhere in the Top 80 in recruiting.
  • The average number of wins in this data set is 7.36, with the mode being 7. The average recruiting ranking is 31.50, with a mode of 11.
  • Two easily identifiable outliers in the data are Louisville and Missouri. Both finished two seasons with 12 wins but ended up outside the Top 25 in recruiting. Both schools are located in areas not known for producing football talent, and Louisville's 12-win seasons came while they were a member of the Big East conference.

Figure 3. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year.

  • There's not a lot more that can be determined from looking at Figure 3 other than just getting a closer look at who's in the Top 25. A team can win as few as 2 games and end up in the Top 25, although that is much more likely to happen with 8+ wins.
  • Alabama dominates the bottom-right of this chart. The bottom-left has a group of suspicious characters that will be discussed in further detail later.
  • Over the 17 year period referenced, only Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Florida State have finished in the Top 25 in recruiting every year. Auburn has done this 16 times while Tennessee, Alabama, and Miami have done it 15 times. South Carolina has 13 Top 25 finishes over this period, and Clemson has 12.
  • Not a surprise, but worth pointing out, is the fact that the SEC dominates the ACC in terms of Top 25 recruiting rankings. Of the 222 data points in Figure 3, 154, or 69.4%, belong to SEC teams.

Two Years Prior Wins and Recruiting

I've heard on multiple occasions that given the time required to build relationships with players and their family members, a big winning season has more impact on the recruiting class two years later than it does on the class immediately following the season (i.e. win totals for the 2000 season impact the 2002 recruiting class more than they do the 2001 class). In Figures 4 and 5 I've plotted recruiting rankings against wins from the season two years prior to see if this postulation is supported by the data.

Figure 4. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the season two years prior.

  • At first glance Figure 4 looks very similar to Figure 2, but upon closer inspection the data does appear to be more closely grouped towards a central trend. In particular the 7 to 9 win range exhibits a denser grouping of data points.

Figure 5. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the season two years prior.

  • As we saw with regards to Figure 4, there's not much to differentiate Figure 5 with Figure 3 above. Alabama has slightly less of a stranglehold on the bottom-right, while Ole Miss (2013) and Auburn (2014) look very suspicious by themselves in the far bottom-left. Both of those recruiting classes occurred one full season after a coaching change.

Overall I'd say there's maybe a little bit of truth to the thinking about wins having more impact two years down the road, but there's not anything definitive in this analysis, at least in this view of the data. Given the recent addition of an early signing period in December, I expect wins from two years prior to be much more relevant to recruiting going forward, as most teams now have a vast majority of their recruiting class locked in before bowl season.

Preceding 4-Year Win Average and Recruiting

In my personal experience, I didn't really become aware of the wider world of college football until around 9th grade. I certainly followed the Gamecocks in depth (as much as was possible pre-Internet at least) and generally knew what teams were historically good, but I really didn't know much about what went on beyond the borders of SC. I assume that I was a fairly typical young guy and that not much has changed in the past 20 or so years. I'm sure that as these potential recruits start playing more competitive football and getting contacted by coaches their awareness of the college football landscape increases dramatically, and when it's finally time for the some of them to choose a program their impressions of teams are based mainly on what has happened since they entered high school. Four years ago I would often see a recruit say something like 'South Carolina always beats Clemson' in an interview. Clemson's current run of success would likely result in a high school senior not realizing that Clemson is a historically mediocre program. In Figures 6 and 7 below I've plotted the recruiting ranking against the average win total for the previous 4-year span.

Figure 6. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years.

  • Now we're seeing a much clearer trend in the data in Figure 6. The data grouping is much tighter and follows the trendline you'd expect to see: top-left downwards toward the bottom-right (i.e. better recruiting with more wins).
  • If a team averages more than 10 wins over a four year period, their next recruiting class is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 20. A major exception to this is Virginia Tech, which finished inside the Top 20 only once out of six years with a 4-year average of 10+ wins. This illustrates that that program has some sort of major disadvantage with regards to recruiting compared to other high-achieving teams.
  • Something jumped out at me that I didn't expect when looking at this chart, and it has to do with team colors. If your team has a single primary color and that color is any kind of shade of blue, it will almost never average more than 8 wins over a 4-year period. Duke average 8.3 wins from 2012-2015, and UNC averaged 8 wins for the last two years of the period 2012-2016. That's it. Also, of the 'blue' teams only UNC has ever had a Top 20 recruiting class.

Figure 7. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years.

  • Again, notice the much tighter distribution of data points in Figure 7 compared to Figures 3 and 5.
  • Three teams have gotten their 4-year win average to 12 or above: Alabama, Florida State, and Clemson. Of these Clemson has underachieved relative to the other two in recruiting rankings. Clemson finished 16th in 2017 and then 7th in the most recent recruiting class after averaging more that 12.3 wins in the those years. The lowest the other two have ranked when averaging more than 12 wins is 6th (Alabama, 2018), with most rankings ending up as either 1st (Alabama) or 3rd (FSU).
  • In Figure 3 you can see that many teams have been able to recruit at a Top 25-level after having only 4 or fewer wins the previous season. Figure 7 shows, however, that it is almost impossible to pull that off if you only average less than 4 wins over a 4-year period preceding the recruiting class.
  • North Carolina managed a 10th ranked finish in recruiting in 2007 despite averaging only 4 wins. Weird. Ole Miss and Tennessee also managed Top 10 recruiting rankings while averaging less than 6 wins. Again, we'll talk more about these classes a little later.

Extrapolations from Wins and Recruiting Data

So far we've seen recruiting rankings compared against three different views of prior wins: wins in the season immediately preceding the recruiting class, wins in the season two years prior to the class, and average wins for the four season prior to the recruiting class. In Figure 8 you can see the trendline for each of the three separate datasets.

Figure 8. The trendlines for each of the full datasets in Figures 2, 4, and 6.

  • The first thing to notice is that the trendlines for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' datasets are nearly identical. These trendlines project for every 1 win either the previous season or two season back, a team's recruiting ranking would be expected to improve by 3.9 spots. You can write this equation to roughly predict a team's recruiting ranking based on a given win total:

Recruiting Ranking = 60 - 3.9 * # of Wins

  • That equation won't be very good, however, as the R-squared number for those trendlines is fairly low. R-squared is a measurement that shows how closely data fits a particular model. In this case the R-squared values for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' trendlines are 22.8% and 24.2%, respectively. In other words, only about 23.5% of recruiting rankings will fit a linear model based on wins from recent single seasons. As we visually saw in the data earlier though, the linear model fits the '2 Years Prior' dataset slightly better than it does the 'Preceding Year' dataset.
  • The correlation coefficient for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' datasets are -0.48 and -0.49, respectively. This indicates a moderate linear relationship.
  • The R-squared value for the linear model of the '4-Year Average' dataset is much better at 35.0%. This certainly jives with a visual inspection of Figure 6 compared to either Figures 2 or 4. The slope of the line here is much steeper, with every increase in 4-year average of 1 win corresponding to a 6.1 improvement in recruiting ranking. The equation for this line can be written as:

Recruiting Ranking = 76 - 6.1 * 4-Year Win Average

  • The steeper slope of the trendline for the '4-Year Average' dataset isn't all that surprising when you consider that improving your 4-year win average by 1 represents a total of 4 additional wins over that period. This corresponds to roughly winning 8% more of your total games.
  • The correlation coefficient for the '4-Year Average' dataset is also much stronger at -0.59, which represents a moderately strong linear relationship.

Improvement in Wins and Recruiting

OK, so now we've shown that there is a (weak) correlation between wins and recruiting rankings, but what about the effect of improvement in wins? Does the excitement generated by a drastic increase in the win column spill over to the recruiting trail?As we see in the Figure 9, the answer to that question is: Nope!

Figure 9. Year-over-year change in Recruiting Rankings from 2003-2018 compared against year-over-year change in win totals in the preceding year.

  • If rising (or falling) win totals had an effect on recruiting ranking, the logical expectation for what you'd see in Figure 9 would be a diagonal line moving from the bottom-left up towards the top-right of the chart. The chart above doesn't show anything like that, however.
  • Given the symmetrical clustering around the origin in the chart, what is shown is that change in recruiting ranking appears to move independently of change in preceding year win totals.
  • This is backed-up by the very low correlation coefficient of this dataset of -0.10, indicating almost no linear relationship whatsoever.
  • So, combining this with what we saw above, we can say that while wins themselves are somewhat correlated with future recruiting performance, change in win totals in themselves do not correspond to change in recruiting rankings.

Top 10 Recruiting with 6 Wins or Less the Previous Year

I've called attention a few times above to the relatively rare phenomenon of teams achieving elite recruiting results despite limited success on the field. Given the small number of teams involved I was able to add labels to the chart in Figure 10. For further clarity I've listed the teams that have managed to pull in Top 10 recruiting classes after winning 6 or less games in the preceding year:

  • 2004 Texas A&M - #10 after 4 wins
  • 2007 North Carolina - #10 after 3 wins
  • 2008 Miami - #1 after 5 wins
  • 2009 Tennessee - #8 after 5 wins
  • 2011 Clemson - #10 after 6 wins
  • 2011 Georgia - #7 after 6 wins
  • 2012 Miami - #10 after 6 wins
  • 2014 Florida - #9 after 4 wins
  • 2014 Tennessee - #7 after 5 wins

Figure 10. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 10 only) during the period 2002-2018 for teams that finished with less than 6 wins in the preceding year.

Of the 9 teams that have achieved this feat, a surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly???) large number of them were caught up in varying degrees of scandal afterwards.

One team that just missed being included in the list above by squeezing out 7 wins immediately prior to finishing #8 in the recruiting rankings is Ole Miss. The sordid history there has been well documented, but if you have the time you should definitely check out Steven Godfrey's long-form piece on the subject.

Given the assumed prevalence of cheating in college football and relative rarity of any team actually ever getting caught, the fact that 4 out of the 9 teams listed above were later involved in scandals of varying degrees is telling. In a lot of cases, though, appearance on this list could be the result of a traditional recruiting powerhouse simply having a bad year (Geogia in 2011, Will Muschamp's 2014 Florida team), or former blue-blood program getting a jolt of energy from a new head coach in his first full recruiting class during a rebuild (Butch Jones, Tennessee 2014).

A Closer Look at the Rivals

The charts above can be hard to decipher given the 475 data points (on Figures 2, 4, and 6). I'm obviously interested to see look at what happens to all teams in the SEC and ACC, but what I'm most interested to see is how the Gamecocks compare to the two main rivals, Clemson and Georgia.

Figure 11. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for South Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year.

  • As I have noted previously, South Carolina and Georgia have been very consistent this century in terms of recruiting ranking. Georgia just tends to recruiting about 14 spots better than SC on average. Georgia's average ranking is 6.9, with the standard deviation being an incredibly low 2.8.  The Gamecocks' average is 20.7, with a relatively low standard deviation of 7.8.
  • On the other hand, Clemson recruiting has been all over the place the last few 17 cycles. The average ranking is less than 1 better than SC's at 19.8, but the standard deviation is large at 11.4. Clemson has also demonstrated a lot more variance in terms of number of wins, driven by their rapid improvement in that area since the beginning of this decade.

Figure 12. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for South Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years.

  • Look at how tight that Georgia data cluster is in Figure 12. None of the 28 teams viewed for this analysis came anywhere close to the same level of consistency in both recruiting and wins as Georgia has this century.

Average Results by Team and Conference

As a finale I thought it would be interesting to look at how each team in the SEC and ACC have performed on average for the past 17 years. In Figure 13 I've plotted that data, along with average values and trendlines for each conference.

Figure 13. Average wins over the period 2001 - 2017 and average recruiting ranking over the period 2002 - 2018 for each team and conference.

  • ACC teams have averaged 7.15 wins from 2001 to 2017, and had a average recruiting ranking of 39.1 from 2002 to 2018. SEC teams averaged 7.57 wins and a recruiting ranking of 24.0.
  • Consider that the ACC and SEC both play 113 conference games each year (14 teams, 8 regular season conference games, 1 conference championship game). This means that each conference starts with a baseline average of 4.04 wins per team just from conference games. The SEC has therefore done a good bit better than the ACC in non-conference games and bowl games, with each team netting an average of 0.42 more wins per year. In total, SEC teams have accrued 1,801 wins over the past 17 years, while the ACC has exactly 100 less at 1,701.
  • The head-to-head record between the two conferences over this period is 86-65 in favor of the SEC. This is a win percentage of 57.0%.
  • The bottom-right of the chart is dominated by 4 SEC teams (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Florida), with an intrusion by only one ACC team (Florida State).
  • The most representative ACC team based on averages is Pittsburg. For the SEC, the most representative team is .......... South Carolina.
  • Looking at the data sets you can almost see two distinct groups, with the ACC teams forming a downward sloping line above the one formed by the SEC teams. The trendlines added for each conference highlight this, and you can see that these are almost parallel with one another. Overall data for the ACC teams tend to be above and to the left of that for the SEC teams.
  • From just looking at the conference averages you can see that SEC teams recruit at a level about 15 spots above ACC teams. Looking at the trendlines you can also say that an average ACC team will win about 1.8 games more per year than an SEC team that recruits at the same level.

Conclusions

I started writing this post way back at the end of June, but as I progressed I kept getting ideas for things to add and other ideas about how to look at the original data. As a result it has grown much longer and more random than I initially intended. There are a lot of words written out above, but here are the main points I think you can draw from the various views of the data:

  • Wins from the preceding year and two years back are nearly indistinguishable in terms of ability to predict recruiting ranking. Both show moderate linear correlation with recruiting, although a linear regression of the data only fits a little less than 25% of the results.
  • The 4-year win average is much better at predicting recruiting rankings, as the data shows a moderately high correlation. A linear regression fits 35% of results.
  • A team that averages less than 4 wins over a 4-year period will not be able to recruit at a Top 25 level. Conversely, a team that averages over 10 wins will almost certainly recruit at a Top 20 level.
  • If a team has a single primary color and that color is blue, the team is most likely terrible.
  • If a team improves (or reduces) it's win total, the magnitude of the improvement / reduction itself doesn't appear to have any impact on any change in the team's recruiting ranking.
  • A team that wins less than 6 games and then hauls in a a Top 10 recruiting class will find itself mixed in with some disreputable company.
  • The SEC has dominated the ACC since 2001 not only in head-to-head record, but also recruiting and total wins.

See the table below for the details of the dataset used to create the above charts.

South Carolina Owns the Big Ten

I was recently reminiscing on the win against Michigan a few months back and that got me thinking about South Carolina's success in bowl season against Big Ten teams so far this century. I pulled up every game the SEC has played against the conference up north during this period using mcubed.net. What I found was exactly what I expected, namely that South Carolina has the most wins and best winning percentage against the Big Ten of any SEC team over the past 18 years. See the data below:

At 6-1, the Gamecocks tie Alabama for the the most wins against Big Ten teams, but have one less loss. Furthermore, the Gamecocks' 6 wins have come against what should be considered that conference's historic powerhouses: Ohio State (twice), Michigan (twice), Nebraska, and Wisconsin. SC's lone loss in this period was against Iowa in the 2009 Outback Bowl. Alabama's 6 wins have come against Michigan State (twice), Penn State (twice), Michigan, and Wisconsin, while their 2 losses were to Ohio State and Minnesota. The third best team in the SEC against the Big Ten, Georgia, has wins against Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Purdue, with their 2 losses coming against Nebraska and Michigan State. Overall the SEC is 39-28 against the Big Ten this century, with South Carolina responsible for 15% of those wins.