Josh Kendall

Western Carolina stands in way of Gamecocks and bowl eligibility

Game preview: A chance to reach bowl eligibility with an exclamation point

The State's Josh Kendall and David Cloninger preview and predict the Gamecocks' game against Western Carolina, set to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
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The State's Josh Kendall and David Cloninger preview and predict the Gamecocks' game against Western Carolina, set to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

When the season started, 6-6 felt like a very reasonable goal for South Carolina’s football team. When the Gamecocks fell to 2-4, it looked like a pipe dream, but here the team is one win away from bowl eligibility.

“It says a lot about the character and the type of guys we have in the locker room,” first-year head coach Will Muschamp said. “I think it says a lot about our staff coming in has done an outstanding job. I would say those are the two areas I would focus on. What a great job our staff and players have done gelling together, especially when you’re sitting at 2-4 coming out of the open week. That was not a prime spot to be in. Guy continued to invest, that’s what we asked them to do. I credit the senior class for building a foundation. There is going to be a lot of fun moving forward and I really credit the senior class.”

The Gamecocks need only beat Western Carolina on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium to earn their spot in the postseason rotation. If you’re worried that the Catamounts are going to come into Williams-Brice and do what The Citadel did last year (namely upset South Carolina), don’t.

This Western Carolina team is nowhere near as good as that Citadel team, and the Gamecocks are in a much better place than that group was a year ago. There is no credible betting line on this game since South Carolina is an FBS team and the Catamounts are an FCS team, but if there was, it would be Gamecocks minus at least 30.

Western Carolina’s only wins this year have come Gardner-Webb and VMI. They have lost to East Carolina (by 45) and Furman (by 28). In short, the Catamounts are in rebuilding mode.

The Gamecocks have taken special care to speak well publicly of Western Carolina this week, but it was very telling that Muschamp, when discussing backup quarterback Brandon McIlwain, mentioned that his team would be involved in bowl practices in December. Even Mr. One Week At A Time knows this is a win for South Carolina.

South Carolina 45, Western Carolina 7

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