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.
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