Josh Kendall

South Carolina schedule breakdown: Are odds in favor of winning season?

South Carolina has five, or six, games remaining in the regular season. The Gamecocks are 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC after last week’s 26-23 loss to Texas A&M. Let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule, with some help from ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings, to see what stands between South Carolina and a winning record this season.

Tennessee

When: Oct. 27

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

Win percentage*: 77.6 percent

The Volunteers are 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the SEC after upsetting Auburn 30-24 on Saturday. That could end up being Tennessee’s only conference win in head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s first season. While South Carolina has an open date this weekend, the Vols will be playing No. 1 Alabama, meaning they’ll be coming into Williams-Brice stadium off a loss and a physical beating. This game sets up will for the Gamecocks, who have beaten the Volunteers the last two years and are expected to be getting back defensive end D.J. Wonnum for the game.

Ole Miss

When: Nov. 3

Where: Oxford, Miss.

Win percentage: 49.3 percent

The Rebels are 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. This game is dangerous because it’s on the road and because the Ole Miss offense is explosive. The Rebels average 550.9 yards per game, which is second best in the SEC, but their defense is terrible, allowing an SEC-worst 499.6 yards per game. Ole Miss may have the best receiving corps in the conference, which is going to be a problem for South Carolina’s struggling secondary. Expect a shootout.

Florida

When: Nov. 10

Where: Gainesville, Fla.

Win percentage: 22.5 percent

The Gators are 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC and ahead of schedule in head coach Dan Mullen’s first year. Florida saw its long winning streak against Kentucky end this year but bounced back to beat the LSU team that just thumped Georgia. What once looked like a good spot for a Gamecocks road win now looks like a tough task. The Gators are second in the SEC in sacks with 21 and will give Jake Bentley headaches in The Swamp, where they overwhelmed the USC offense two years ago.

Chattanooga

When: Nov. 17

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

Win percentage: 98 percent

The Mocs are 3-4 overall, and there’s not much to say about this game as South Carolina follows in the conference trend of putting a paycheck game late in the season right before the season-ending rivalry game.

Clemson

When: Nov. 24

Where: Clemson

Win percentage: 8.9 percent

The Tigers haven’t dominated anyone this season, but they have survived scares against Texas A&M and Syracuse and are 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC. Clemson is on the verge of matching the Gamecocks recent five-game winning streak in this series. Unless the Tigers have a quarterback problem due to lack of depth before this game gets here, South Carolina will be a major underdog and for good reason. Gamecocks fans shouldn’t pin any season-saving hopes on this game.

To Be Determined

When: Dec. 1 possibly

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium almost certainly

Win percentage: Will be high

The Gamecocks won’t announce, or even discuss much, the possibility of adding a game on Dec. 1 until they are officially eliminated from the SEC East race. Until then, there’s a mathematical chance that South Carolina could be playing in the SEC title game on Dec. 1, and it would be a bad look to wave the white flag on that even though it’s a remote possibility. However, it’s likely the school is working out the possibilities for such a game at the moment because the Gamecocks are going to need another win at the end of the regular season, maybe not to get bowl eligible but to feel better about themselves. Marshall, which South Carolina was scheduled to play on Sept. 15 before the game was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, will be available on Dec. 1 if it doesn’t qualify for the Conference USA title game. The Thundering Herd is 2-1 in C-USA, one game behind Florida International. If Marshall can’t or won’t play, expect South Carolina to find an opponent it can easily beat for a paycheck.

*Win percentage based on ESPN’s Football Power Index, which rates South Carolina the No. 34 team in the country at the moment.

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