If you aren’t from the United States or have never spent a huge amount of time there, it really is quite difficult to comprehend just how big a deal college football is. While the players aren’t yet professional, so don’t get paid to play (something that is beginning to become a bone of contention with many people within the industry) watching college ball is a great chance to watch football before it gets ‘ruined’ as a spectacle by the billions of dollars that is in the NFL. It is football at its purest! It also offers fans a chance to spot future superstars while they’re young, to see them while they are still raw and playing purely for the love of the game.
When you think about South Carolina, football wouldn’t necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind. They are without an NFL franchise, with the Panthers being based at the Bank of America Stadium over the border in Charlotte, North Carolina. In fact, the state as a whole doesn’t have a major sports franchise at all, with the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS also staying out of the state. Instead, it is most well known for its beaches, golf courses, historic districts and southern BBQ.
They do have a successful and well-loved college football team, however, the South Carolina Gamecocks, who represent the University of South Carolina. They participate in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) as well as the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Many of the top sports betting sites offer NCAAF odds on the Gamecocks, and they certainly are popular amongst online sports bettors. The 2021/22 college football season is now underway, and new head coach Shane Beamer is hopeful he can bring some great victories and post-season success to the Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Gamecocks are based in Columbia, South Carolina, and have been an established side since 1892. With such a long history, you would expect their trophy cabinet to be overflowing. However, titles have been fairly hard to come by for South Carolina. Their one conference title (when they played in the Atlantic Coast Conference) was all the way back in 1969. Slightly more recently in 2010, they claimed a Division title, where they finished the overall season with a record 9-5.
Their other big claim to fame is that they produced the 1980 Heisman Trophy winner, Running back George Rogers. Many of his college records still stand in South Carolina, where he rushed 5,205 yards and has 31 rushing touchdowns. He was the first overall pick in the 1981 draft and played in the NFL for seven seasons, for the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins. He rushed for over 7,000 yards in his professional career and is well thought of in South Carolina, where they erected a statue of him in 2015.
Given their location, it is no surprise that the Gamecocks have a number of close rivalries with neighbouring colleges teams. The most bitter of all of them is their rivalry with Clemson University. The rivalry spans across all collegiate sports but is most intensely felt in football. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, it has been a rather one-sided affair of late, as they haven’t beaten Clemson since 2013. The overall score is 71-42 in Clemson’s favour, so coach Beamer will be hoping to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
Another college where the rivalry there is a lot of resentment felt is with the University of Georgia, and their team the Georgia Bulldogs. Again, the Gamecocks have a poor overall record (52-19) but they did win at the Sanford Stadium as recently as 2019, so there is hope that the tide might be turning in this particular rivalry
The preparations for the 2021 season were not the most tranquil for the Gamecocks, as starting quarterback Luke Doty injured his foot. This meant that 24-year-old graduate assistant Zeb Noland had to step in. Fans didn’t even know his name before their game against Eastern Illinois, but his four touchdown passes helped the Gamecocks ease to a 46-0 victory.
While Noland performed admirably, they are hoping Doty will be fit to face the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday the 11th of September. The Gamecocks are currently on a four-game winning streak against the Pirates, so will be hoping this streak will continue.
The next games after that see them take on their old foes the Bulldogs, before hosting the Kentucky Wildcats at the Williams-Brice Stadium. Getting the season off to a strong start is always vital for any successful campaign, so Beamer and his coaches will be looking for positive results and performances in these games. Let’s hope the Gamecocks do well, and that their fans have something to shout about come the end of the season.
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