South Carolina hoped to be playing a Dec. 1 game this year, just not this Dec. 1 game.
The Gamecocks (6-5) will play Akron (4-7) at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium. The plan had been, and will be from this point forward according to USC head coach Will Muschamp, to be playing in Atlanta on Saturday in the SEC championship game. Instead, that will be Alabama and Georgia, while South Carolina shoots for a seventh win of the season.
The Gamecocks will get that. They are a 30-point favorite and playing with more offensive confidence than they have ever had under Muschamp. It will be an odd atmosphere with a home crowd that’s expected to be fewer than 50,000 for the first time in a long time, so South Carolina might start slow but it will survive easily enough.
“We spend the same amount of time, as far as coaches in the office, whether we’re playing Akron or whoever we’re playing,” Muschamp said. “It’s a part of our preparation. Our players understand that. Our players understand that it’s not the logo and who we’re playing. It’s about us. The opponent is nameless and faceless. It’s our job to make a decision to be who we are on game day, and you’ve got to do that by preparing the right way.”
“We don’t ever overlook opponents,” offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson said more bluntly. “We treat every team like it’s a championship team.”
The Gamecocks hope to be that next year. For now, though, they’ll have to settle for beating the Zips.
South Carolina 52, Akron 24