South Carolina’s football team heads back on the road Saturday, for what seems like the ninth time in its nine games this season.
“It almost feels like we’ve rarely played at home,” interim head coach Shawn Elliott said.
That’s only slightly exaggerating the situation. The Gamecocks (3-5, 1-5 SEC) will play their sixth game away from Williams-Brice Stadium when they take on Tennessee at 4 p.m. in Neyland Stadium. Mercifully, it will be their last as the final three games of the season all are at home.
“We’ve had an odd season,” Elliott said. “We really have.”
The Gamecocks not only have had a lot of travel, they’ve had a lot of long travel with road games at Texas A&M (2,080 miles round trip), at Missouri (1,740 miles round trip) and at LSU (1,466 miles round trip) to go along with shorter trips to Georgia and Charlotte (to play North Carolina in a neutral site game).
The Missouri, Texas A&M and LSU games are three of the four longest trips possible for South Carolina in SEC play. The only other trip that compares is playing at Arkansas (1,826 miles round trip).
By the time South Carolina returns home from Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday night, it will have traveled 6,326 miles for games this season. By comparison, Georgia will travel a combined 2,255 miles for its five road games this season.
The Gamecocks travel schedule was packed enough before school officials decided to move what was scheduled to be a home game against LSU to Baton Rouge, La., because of flooding in South Carolina.
“It was unfortunate that we had to go to LSU, but we did, we went down there, and we would have liked to have played here at home, but it didn't change the fact we're tired or not,” Elliott said. “You've got to go and you've got to deal with those type of situations.”
South Carolina senior running back Brandon Wilds replied “Not at all,” when asked if the schedule has had any cumulative fatigue effect on him or his teammates, and Elliott said South Carolina’s Oct. 24 bye week was well timed to allow his team some rest.
South Carolina is the only team in the SEC that will have played fewer than four home games by the end of this weekend, and five conference teams will have played six home games by the time this weekend’s activity is complete.
The Gamecocks are 0-3 in road games this season although they did win their season-opening neutral site contest against North Carolina on Sept. 3. Their six games in Williams-Brice Stadium this season will be their fewest since 2004, which was an 11-game season.
“I certainly don’t think we’re tired,” Elliott said. “We should be fresh and ready to go, there's no reason for us to be tired.”
On the Road Again
South Carolina will have traveled 6,326 miles for football games this season after Saturday. Here’s a look at each road trip:
Sept. 3 at Charlotte: 186 miles
Sept. 19 at Athens, Ga.: 328 miles
Oct. 3 at Columbia, Mo.: 1,740 miles
Oct. 10 at Baton Rouge, La.: 1,466 miles
Oct. 31 at College Station, Texas: 2,080 miles
Saturday at Knoxville, Tenn.: 526 miles