2019 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Will Muschamp is such an interesting case - proof that being viewed as a genius doesn't always mean you are actually a genius. In 2008, Texas made him their head coach in waiting, the guy who would replace Mack Brown whenever he left. The defensive coordinator got impatient waiting, though, so in 2010 he took the job replacing Urban Meyer as head coach at Florida. And it mostly went horribly. He went 11-2 his second year, but was an ugly 4-8, and was fired before his team played in the Birmingham Bowl in his fourth year. His aura was still strong, though, and he was made the highest-paid assistant in football to be the defensive coordinator at Auburn. That lasted only a year, though, before he was tabbed to replace Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. He took over a 3-9 squad, and has won 6, 9 and 7 games. Those aren't terrible numbers, but he sure doesn't seem to have this squad on the launch pad ready to go into orbit. It's quite possible - perhaps even probable - that Muschamp just isn't a very good head coach. He could prove me wrong this year, I guess, but against a brutal schedule I just can't say that I am optimistic.
2018 in a Nutshell
It's hard to gain any ground in this sport if you don't beat good teams. Last year the Gamecocks lost to the best six teams they faced. That's not great. They got wins against Coastal Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Chattanooga and Akron. Not much to get excited about there. But they got beat up by Georgia, lost by two touchdowns at Kentucky, lost close games to the Aggies and at Florida, got humiliated by Clemson, and then were shut out by Virginia in the Belk Bowl to cap things off. They wound up 7-6, but that's a flattering record due mostly to the way the schedule played out.
Key Additions and Departures
The team had three players drafted, led by leading receiver and kick returner Deebo Samuel, who went to San Francisco in the second round. Corner Rashad Fenton and OT Dennis Daley both went in the sixth round. Even without Samuel, the passing game is in good shape with lots of good targets for QB Jake Bentley, who is well positioned to be just the 10th player in SEC history to have 10,000 career passing yards. Ty'Son Williams, who was the most likely starting running back, surprisingly transferred out of the program in the offseason, so they have more questions at running back than at receiver. Daley and four-year starter Zack Bailey are both gone from the line, but three starters return, and the replacement options are solid enough that the line isn't a huge concern.
Losing Fenton isn't great in the secondary, but the rest of the unit is still good and has a chance to be really good. The defensive line is excellent, too. It's what is in between that is the issue. They have two returning starters at linebacker, and a senior who has started multiple games in the third spot. But the unit was just lousy last year, and there is no certainty that they will be any better this time around.
Muschamp may not have had a lot of success on the field, but he recruits solidly. He had the 17th-ranked class nationally this year, which is one step ahead of last year. The lone five-star recruit in the class, and the highest-rated recruit Muschamp has signed here, is DT Zacch Pickens. That's a tough position to break into as a freshman, but the combination of his talent and the needs of the team mean he could get a chance. Ryan Hilinski, the second-rated pro style QB in the country, will look to be Bentley's top backup before taking over next year when the senior graduates.
Biggest Area of Concern
It's the schedule. The team could make moderate improvements from last year in real terms, but it probably won't show up in the standings. As we will see in a second, the schedule is as brutal as any in the country, and this team just isn't good enough to overcome that.
South Carolina Gamecocks Schedule Analysis
Like I said, it's awful. They open with a neutral-site game in Charlotte against North Carolina. That's not so bad. And neither is a game against Charleston Southern. But then they host Alabama, and that almost certainly isn't going to go well. Missouri is a better team than the Gamecocks, so that's a tough trip up next. Hosting Kentucky should be easier this year than it would have been last year, but then they have a brutal game at Georgia, then host Florida. They have a softer stretch at Tennessee then against Vanderbilt and Appalachian State. But then they have a tricky game at Texas A&M before closing out against Clemson. So, they play the teams likey to be ranked first, second and third in the preseason poll, and two more in the Top 10. Ouch.
2019-20 South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds and Trends
Bovada has South Carolina at +30000 to win the national title, which places them in a group of teams that includes UCLA as distant contenders. As a general rule right now, if you are being compared to UCLA, you are not in a very good place. At +6600, they are tied with Tennessee as the 10th choice to win the SEC, only ahead of Ole Miss, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.
2019-20 South Carolina Gamecocks Predictions and College Football Picks
I am a long way from optimistic, They should be able to pass reasonably well, and the defense will do some things well enough. But they just aren't good enough to deal with this schedule. Anything better than 6-6 on the regular season would be good for them, and I am not at all confident that they will get there.
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