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Ranking the Gamecocks Nonconference Games by Importance

Updated: May 21

Gamecocks nonconference
© Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks head into year three under coach Shane Beamer. After going 6-2 the last two years in nonconference games here is a ranking of their nonconference games ranked by importance from least important to most important.

Continuing Gamecocks Nonconference Roll

The past two seasons saw the Gamecocks breeze through most non-Southeastern Conference games. In 2023 the Gamecocks had a 2-2 record after winning all four of their nonconference games in 2022. Last season, the Gamecocks opened with a loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels (31-17) and then lost to the Clemson Tigers (16-7) in the final game of the year.

This season South Carolina's nonconference opponents include home games against Old Dominion (Aug. 31), Akron (Sept. 21), Wofford (Nov. 23) and traveling to Clemson (Nov. 30).

No. 4: Wofford Terriers (2023: 2-9, 2-6 Southern Conference)

The Terriers and the Gamecocks will play at a time to be announced on Nov. 23 in Columbia. The Terriers are a struggling FCS team near the bottom of the SoCon. The Gamecocks hold a 5-0 record against the Terriers and should outclass the Wofford in every facet of the game and it should make for an enjoyable Senior Day and Salute the Troops Day. This will be the first game for Wofford against the Gamecocks since 2017 when the Gamecocks won 31-10. In that game quarterback Jake Bently was responsible for 3 touchdowns in the victory. This game should be a good time to rest the starters with Clemson looming the following week.

No. 3: Akron Zips (2023: 2-10, 1-7 Mid-American Conference)

The Zips will play the Gamecocks on Sept. 21 in Columbia. Akron comes in as one of the worst teams in the MAC. The Zips played the Gamecocks back in 2018, falling to the Gamecocks 28-3. Future San Fransico 49ers star wide receiver Deebo Samuel scored 2 touchdowns in the game. This is the second game of the year and most teams show their biggest jumps after the first game. This should be another easy victory for the Gamecocks as the Zips have only managed to win seven games in the last five years.

Gamecocks nonconference
© Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2: Old Dominion Monarchs (2023: 6-7, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference)

This game is going to be a little tricky. The Monarchs will play the Gamecocks on Aug. 31 in Columbia. The Monarchs are a testy bunch from the SBC. ODU joined Conference USA in 2014 before landing in the SBC. South Carolina should come out victorious, however, the first game with a new starting quarterback and wanting to start the season on a high note may bring some added pressure trying to secure wins outside of the daunting SEC schedule.

The two teams have never met in football before this season. The Monarchs can't let the crowd intimidate them out of the gate with the traditional entrance to "Sandstorm." They can test the Gamecocks early but won't have the firepower down the stretch.

No. 1: Clemson Tigers (2023: 9-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference)

The Gamecocks have a big-time nonconference match-up built into their in-state rival the Tigers. One of the longest-standing rivalries in all of college football, these two teams started playing one another back in 1896. Clemson leads the all-time series 73-43-4. Two seasons ago the Gamecocks ended a seven-year run of Tiger wins with a 31-30 victory on the road. Last season the Tigers returned the favor beating South Carolina 16-7 at Williams-Brice Stadium. This is one of those hateful rivalry games. Just look back to the 2004 game held at Clemson that resulted in a brawl that spilled onto the field and into the stands. You can see the infamous picture of Clemson running back Yusef Kelly running on the sidelines waving a South Carolina helmet. No one knows what to expect from both clubs this year, however, with it being the final game of the season it will undoubtedly lead to some fireworks as all blood rivalries do.

Clemson Football
© Ken Ruinard staff USA TODAY NETWORK

Overall Outlook

The Gamecocks should without question win three of the four nonconference games. The Clemson game, known as the Palmetto Bowl, can always save or break a season. Beamer and his team need to get to that matchup like most teams are hoping at the end of the year—with minimal injuries and great continuity.

The Gamecocks have an incredibly tough SEC schedule with the likes of the Oklahoma Sooners, the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers and the Ole Miss Rebels to name a few. South Carolina must get out of the gate fast with two wins to start the season. With hopes, the Palmetto Bowl has more at risk than state bragging rights.


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