Whether or not it’s a comforting thought, it’s not too early to start counting bowl eligibility wins.
The Gamecocks head to Columbia, Mo., on Saturday with two victories. It’ll take four more to be eligible for a bowl game. ESPN.com and CBSSports.com don’t believe they will make it at the moment. Both those organizations release updated bowl projections each week, and South Carolina has not been listed in either for a while now.
There’s still time for the Gamecocks to change this and turn around the complexion of their season, but it probably needs to start this week. This is a very winnable game for South Carolina. Missouri is a slight favorite but lost to the same Kentucky that beat USC and struggled before that to beat UConn.
The climb gets steeper after this week. Ninth-ranked LSU and Leonard Fournette come to town next week. Two weeks after that there’s a trip to No. 14 Texas A&M. Then a trip to Neyland Stadium to face Tennessee and visit from No. 25 Florida follow. And, of course, there’s No. 12 Clemson to wrap up the season.
Assuming Vanderbilt and The Citadel as victories, that’s four for the Gamecocks. Making the Missouri game the fifth in that equation would make it much easier to get to six overall before the end of the season. If South Carolina loses to the Tigers, it will have to beat two of the group of LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson to be eligible for postseason play.
It’d be a lot more comforting to only have to win one of those games.