A tradition that started under Steve Spurrier will continue without him in 2016 as South Carolina will open the college football season on a Thursday for the 10th time in 12 years.
The Gamecocks will play at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1 in their season-opener, the SEC announced Thursday as it unveiled the full schedule for each conference team.
South Carolina will spend a lot of time on the road in the first month of the season. Its first three SEC games – Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Kentucky – are on the road. The only home game breaking up that stretch is a Sept. 17 date against East Carolina.
“That’s a really tough start for the new head coach if it’s not Shawn Elliott,” SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy said during the schedule release broadcast.
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The Gamecocks have never played three straight road games to open the SEC schedule. Their first SEC home game won’t come until Oct. 1 against Texas A&M.
South Carolina’s open date is Oct. 15, prior to a home game against Massachusetts. The Gamecocks are the only SEC team with their open date prior to a non-conference opponent.
“I don’t understand the open date prior to playing UMass,” McElroy said. “That doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. I would like to have that open date a different weekend, but you have to deal with the hand you’re dealt.”
The Gamecocks’ home games will be against East Carolina, Texas A&M, Georgia, UMass, Tennessee, Missouri and Western Carolina. Their road games are against Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida and Clemson.
Sept. 1: at Vanderbilt*
Sept. 10: at Mississippi State*
Sept. 17: EAST CAROLINA
Sept. 24: at Kentucky*
Oct. 1: TEXAS A&M*
Oct. 8: GEORGIA*
Oct. 15: Open
Oct. 22: MASSACHUSETTS
Oct. 29: TENNESSEE*
Nov. 5: MISSOURI*
Nov. 12: at Florida*
Nov. 19: WESTERN CAROLINA
Nov. 26: at Clemson
Home games in CAPS
* SEC game