The School: The University of South Carolina
Record: 1-1 (0-1 in the SEC). South Carolina’s week 1 victory over Coastal Carolina is proof it can handle a baseball school. This is troubling.
Ranking: 40th in the AP Top 25 and 30th in the Coaches’ Poll. The S&P+ hasn’t yet updated for Week 4, but it pegs Vandy for a one-point home upset, which is neat.
Mascot: An angry chicken. Second only to the Texas Longhorn as college football’s most delicious mascot.
The most delicious mascot in all of American sports? The Phillie Phanatic. He’s tough to catch, but the meat is magical.
Location: Columbia, South Carolina. The state where casual racism hits you like an arrow wound. Sure, it makes you wince, but mostly you’re like “holy shit, this still happens???”
Coach: Will Muschamp, seen here auditioning for a role in Pixar’s Inside Out:
“Hey, Christian, you used these exact same GIFs last year for this article.”
Yes I did. And I will use them every season we play South Carolina until Muschamp spontaneously combusts on the sideline, taking down all three strength and conditioning coaches tasked with wrangling him in the process.
Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Added in 1990 so we could also bring Arkansas into the fold. So thanks, Gamecocks, for both Bret Bielema and conference losses to North Texas.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 23-4. SEND ‘EM BACK TO THE ACC, I SAYS.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 9-1. Pass.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Kyle Shurmur threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns. That’s good! He had to throw the ball because Ralph Webb, Khari Blasingame, and Dallas Rivers combined for 78 rushing yards. That’s bad.
Anyway, Vandy had the ball with 2:48 to play trailing 34-27. drove to the South Carolina 40, then promptly shot itself in the foot with a holding call that led to a turnover on downs. It was as depressing as the Notre Dame loss, just in a slightly different but still extremely Vanderbilt way.
Is Vandy Favored?: No. Vanderbilt is a 3-point underdog which means people were paying attention to the Commodores’ ability to almost beat teams.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Deebo Samuel. Georgia held him to 5.5 yards per catch and the Coastal Carolina game didn’t really count, but Samuel is the kind of home run hitter who will make some ridiculous 77-yard gain right after Vandy cuts USC’s lead to three points just to totally demoralize us.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Linebacker T.J. Brunson gets into pretty much everything, like a black bear at a campsite. Kyle Shurmur should hang all his coolers from trees to protect himself.
But...bears climb trees. Were all those park rangers lying to me as a child? Were we just making things slightly more challenging for the bears?
Matchup to Watch: Vanderbilt vs history. Good lord, look at that all-time record. Against SOUTH CAROLINA. 4-23 should be the Commodores’ record against Alabama or Ohio State or the Cleveland Browns. Not a team with one total SEC East championship.
Interesting Fact: South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia, yet in no way felt compelled to name every third street in its capital city “Peachtree.” This makes Columbia 1,000% easier to navigate than Atlanta, which is basically just an elaborate prank played on northerners.
Bonus Fact!: HOOTIE STATUE:
If South Carolina wins, we: relinquish our claim as the SEC East’s No. 2 team. It’s either you or Kentucky, Gamecocks.