South Carolina’s 2022 football season kicks off against Georgia State next week, and the Gamecocks plunge straight into SEC competition in Week 2 in Arkansas.
Expectations are high for coach Shane Beamer to improve on last year’s 7-6 record in his second season, but even seven wins will be a challenge on this year’s competitive schedule.
Here are our game-by-game predictions for the Gamecocks’ record:
South Carolina 31, Georgia State 10: Spencer Rattler throws for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns in a promising debut. The Gamecocks got off to a slow start, but worked out some of the kinks at halftime for three unanswered scoring drives in the third quarter.
Arkansas 37, South Carolina 31: Arkansas is a bad matchup for the Gamecocks and the offensive line struggles to give Rattler time in the pocket. Running backs are having a great day, especially Marshawn Lloyd, who finishes with two touchdowns and 100-plus yards.
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Georgia 41, South Carolina 20: The defensive line can’t put a dent in Georgia’s star-studded frontline, though the Gamecocks’ offense has a better performance than it did last year against the Bulldogs. Still, an 0-2 start in the SEC is a tough pill to swallow.
South Carolina 34, Charlotte 27: The Gamecocks are banged up after two tough matchups with Georgia and Arkansas. Charlotte puts up a better fight than expected, but South Carolina stops late in the game to secure a fourth-quarter victory.
South Carolina 38, State of South Carolina 6: South Carolina dominates from start to finish for a huge homecoming crowd and Luke Doty takes over at quarterback during the fourth quarter. The win brings much-needed confidence heading into Kentucky.
South Carolina 21, Kentucky 17: In the first big test of the season, South Carolina delivers. This matchup turns into a defensive battle and Kentucky leads 17-14 for most of the game. Rattler throws a last minute hail to Josh Vann to snatch the win in front of a hostile crowd at Kroger Field.
Texas A&M 34, South Carolina 21: The offense gets going early to surprise a highly praised Aggies defense, but the Gamecocks run out of steam in the second half. Rattler throws a late interception that puts the game out of range.
South Carolina 28, Missouri 7: After A&M, the Gamecocks need a morale boost, and a home game against Mizzou provides it. Quarterback Brady Cook is sacked five times and the South Carolina secondary closes out the passing game. Rattler throws four touchdowns at four different targets.
South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 10: The Gamecocks won’t underestimate Vandebilt after last year’s near-disaster at Columbia. Marshawn Lloyd and Christian Beal-Smith break up a weak defensive front and the defense keeps the Commodores scoreless in the first half.
South Carolina 24, Florida 20: South Carolina has historically struggled in Gainesville and will look sluggish in the first half of its only consecutive road game. However, Florida is still in a rebuilding phase and the Gamecocks’ top talent wins after halftime.
Tennessee 34, South Carolina 31: The Gamecocks lose a heartbreaker when the Vols kick a field goal as time runs out. The defense slows down Hendon Hooker and Tennessee enough for Carolina’s offense to hold up, which is a huge improvement from last season against the Vols. Zacch Pickens and Jordan Strachan combine for four sacks.
Clemson 35, South Carolina 14: The Gamecocks are good enough to avoid another 2021 shutout, but they’re not at the level of a college football playoff contender. An early 7-7 tie gives fans a glimmer of hope, but the Tigers quickly wrapped things up to continue their eight-year winning streak.