College Sports

Here’s what South Carolina football will have to do in order to make a 2019 bowl game

How USC is preparing freshman QB Ryan Hilinski to face Alabama

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp discusses quarterback Ryan Hilinski and the big game ahead against Alabama at Williams-Brice Stadium.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp discusses quarterback Ryan Hilinski and the big game ahead against Alabama at Williams-Brice Stadium.

So what exactly is South Carolina Gamecocks football in 2019?

Trash? That’s how it was perceived by many following an opening-game loss to North Carolina. A powerhouse? Was putting Ryan Hilinski under center following Jake Bentley’s injury the answer or was it simply because USC was going against FCS Charleston Southern?

At this point I think the best term to describe the Gamecocks is unknown.

I think it’ll be another week and a half before we have any clue if this is a squad going bowling or one that could ultimately lead to the end of the Will Muschamp era.

It’s hard to make a strong argument either way right now when you consider the Gamecocks bounced back with a strong performance — again, against a lower-division team — after the loss to UNC, which got a quality win over Miami in its second game and sits surprisingly at 2-0.

We won’t find anything out this week, as South Carolina surely will get run out of Williams Brice Stadium by second-ranked Alabama. It’s pretty inevitable.

I think we’ll start to learn about this team come Sept. 21, when the Gamecocks travel to Missouri for its first SEC East contest. The Tigers, too, have been hard to read. Missouri opened the season with a 37-31 loss at Wyoming before bouncing back with a 38-7 rout of West Virginia at home.

That contest begins a stretch in which five of seven games will mostly likely determine whether USC is a bowl team or not. The following week the Gamecocks play Kentucky, followed by a bye and then a game versus Georgia (count that as a loss), Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Appalachian State (we’ll call this a win). Then South Carolina finishes up with Texas A&M and Clemson, two more they’ll most likely lose.

So, assuming USC loses to Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and Clemson, that’s five losses. Predicting the Gamecocks to take care of Appy State means two wins we’ll guarantee. That means South Carolina would need to win four out of five in games against Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt to finish the season 6-6 and finish bowl eligible.

It’s doable, but it’s unlikely the Gamecocks finish better than .500. It’s also plausible they lose to three of those five teams and finish 4-8 and Muschamp’s out the door.

It was obviously going in that this was going to be a tough schedule for the Gamecocks and that’s why the loss to North Carolina to open the season was so disheartening to their fans. There’s very little wiggle room now.

For those of you who root for the garnet and black, now is time to hope that the Tar Heels are legit and the Gamecocks are actually much better than what was perceived following that game.

Nonetheless, we’ll soon find out.