South Carolina is going to break a long drought later today.
At least that’s my educated guess.
The Gamecocks (1-0) have not been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for almost four years, but that should change today. Five ranked teams lost on the Week 1 of college football, most importantly for this discussion No. 19 Florida State and No. 23 Texas.
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South Carolina, which beat Coastal Carolina 49-15 in its opener on Saturday, was the first team in the “others receiving votes” category in the AP’s preseason poll. I haven’t voted in the AP poll since the 2016 season, but having done it for several years, I can tell you how the system works for most voters. They’ll go back to their preseason poll and drop out the teams near the bottom who lost and bump up a team or teams that just missed out on their previous ballot depending on how many teams they dropped out.
South Carolina’s spot at what was essentially No 26 in the preseason rankings means they were near the top of mind for a lot of voters as a team that could be next up.
No. 6 Washington, No. 8 Miami, No. 14 Michigan, No. 19 Florida State and No. 23 Texas all lost their openers at some point during the Labor Day weekend. It’s not likely that Washington, Miami or Michigan will drop out of the rankings, although the Hurricanes and Wolverines both looked so terrible that it’s possible. The Gamecocks don’t need many spots to open up to have a very good shot of returning to the ranks of the nation’s respected. Just one is all it will take and there will likely be two because the Seminoles and Longhorns looked bad.
The last time the Gamecocks were ranked by the Associated Press (which is poll that USC uses for its official history) was Sept. 27, 2014 before a loss to Missouri. Fifty-one polls have passed by since then without South Carolina having a spot.
That should end today.
That, of course, would set up a matchup of ranked teams Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium when No. 3 Georgia visits (the Bulldogs are likely to stay at No. 3 after a 45-0 win over Austin Peay in the opener). The last time South Carolina and Georgia met as ranked teams, the Gamecocks were No. 24 and the Bulldogs were No. 6, and South Carolina pulled off a dramatic 38-35 upset on Sept. 13, 2014.
Maybe history will bode well for the Gamecocks. Or maybe their spot in the Top 25 won’t last very long.