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Better Know an SEC Opponent: The South Carolina Gamecocks

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The thought of facing Derek Mason's Vanderbilt defense was enough to send Steve Spurrier into an immediate retirement. So what else do the Commodores need to worry about when they face South Carolina on Saturday?

Somehow a less awkward runner than Tom Brady.
Somehow a less awkward runner than Tom Brady.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of South Carolina

Record: 2-4 (0-4 in the SEC). South Carolina was 7-6 in 2014.

Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. The formulas have USC rated 82 in the Real Time RPI (Worse than last week's opponent, MTSU). They are ranked 79th in Warren Nolan's power rankings (Vandy is #92, and Temple is #1... so maybe this is the week we stop using Mr. Nolan as a reference).

Mascot: The Gamecocks. Has anyone made a genitalia reference yet? Ok, good.

Location: Columbia, South Carolina.

CoachUh...

Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Formerly the Metro Conference. Then formerly independent. Then formerly of the ACC. Then formerly of the Southern Conference. Fortunately, the SEC is like the girlfriend that doesn't care about your baggage and sees the true value inside you; a moderately successful state school that can balance out the addition of Arkansas to the West and never really threaten any of the league's traditional powers.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 20-4.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 8-2.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Darrius Sims returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to give Vandy an early lead, but the Commodores, led by approximately 50 different freshmen, didn't have the horses to keep the Gamecocks down. So far, it's the only game that Wade Freebeck has ever run for positive yardage in his college career (11 carries, -41 yards otherwise).

Is Vandy Favored?: Nope! South Carolina is probably going to wind up being coached by this guy:

RicFlairUSC

yet the betting public still says "eh, I like Flair better than Mason, I guess." South Carolina is a 3.5-point favorite.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: Pharoh Cooper is a pretty great wide receiver. Unfortunately, he's got a pair of backup quarterbacks throwing to him, including Saturday's potential starter (and sub-50% completion rate holder) Perry Orth.

There's a chance that Connor Mitch returns from a hip injury in time to face Vanderbilt, but he only completed 13 of his 29 passes in the season opener against North Carolina. The Gamecock quarterback platoon is basically held together by athletic tape right now.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Skai Moore was once a huge Vanderbilt target under James Franklin. The Commodores wound up with his teammate, Jordan Cunningham instead. Cunningham lasted two seasons in Nashville, while Moore has developed into an All-SEC linebacker for South Carolina. He currently leads the Gamecocks in total tackles, tackles for loss, and interceptions. Expect to see a lot of him on Saturday.

Matchup to Watch: Pharoh Cooper vs. Torren McGaster. McGaster has been the leader of a resurgent Commodore secondary, but his coverage skills will be tested by Cooper. The junior wideout has been able to burn defenses for 100-yard receiving games despite his team's quarterback drama, so the Gamecocks could put a malfunctioning JUGS machine behind center and still get an eight-catch day out of their star. That would make him a great pickup on DraftJackals, a totally legitimate and great daily fantasy football program who is totally not paying me to write this about them!

Interesting Fact: The first response when you run a Google search for "University of South Carolina" asks you whether or not you meant to type "Clemson" instead.

Bonus Fact!: Widely accepted nicknames for Columbia, South Carolina include "Cola.," "Famously Hot," "Soda City," and "Paradise City." The latter of which was famously co-opted for a hit Guns & Roses song that is secretly about getting flipped off by a guy with a healthy patch of Skoal tucked under his lip and a pickup truck with several Confederate flags on the back.

If South Carolina wins, we: examine the financial and social costs of bringing Steve Spurrier out of retirement.