Josh Kendall

Josh Kendall’s USC-UNC gameday forecast, prediction

Gamecocks quarterback Connor Mitch
Gamecocks quarterback Connor Mitch Special to The State

Finally, it’s here. South Carolina and North Carolina open the major college football season at 6 p.m. in Bank of America Stadium.

The Gamecocks have waited nine months to put last year’s 7-6 season behind them, and now they get their chance. South Carolina is a three-point favorite over the Tar Heels and the pile of reasons over here to be optimistic about the Gamecocks is about the same size as the pile of reasons to be worried over there.

Good news: They have a veteran offensive line.

Bad news: It’s painfully thin.

Good news: They have a four-star quarterback.

Bad news: He’s thrown six collegiate passes.

Good news: The defense can’t be worse.

Bad news: It needs to be a lot better.

You get the picture. North Carolina provides an intriguing first test – nine starters are back on a fast-paced offense and the defense is being run by a new (and formerly very successful) coordinator.

“We are more anxious to see what we’ve got,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said. “We thought we had a lot last year. We ended up not having much in certain areas. We have, hopefully, been awakened from one year to the next. But we have to go play and find out what we are all about.”

There’s little reason to objectively like one of these teams more than the other at this moment, but the Gamecocks get the nod from Las Vegas, and from me, because they’ve won five of the past six in this series and proven to be a better long-term bet under their current coaching staff than the Tar Heels have under their current coaching staff.