South Carolina has one of the toughest schedules in college football coming into the 2019 season.
Kicking off the season with two non-conference opponents — UNC on Aug. 31 and Charleston Southern on Sept. 7 — the season only gets tougher as it progresses.
Let's take a closer look at South Carolina's upcoming opponents.
The "Big Three"
The remaining 10 games features three matchups against preseason top five teams: Alabama, Georgia and Clemson.
Alabama has appeared in every College Football Playoff for the last five seasons, while Clemson has appeared in the last four, including winning two of the last three College Football Playoff National Championships.
Alabama and Clemson have played each other in the playoff in the last four seasons, with three of those matchups being in the national title game.
Georgia is two seasons removed from its Rose Bowl victory and College Football Playoff National Championship appearance. The Bulldogs have beaten South Carolina for four consecutive seasons, while Clemson has defeated the Gamecocks five seasons in a row.
South Carolina will travel to Athens to face Georgia on Oct. 12.
However, South Carolina is still the last SEC East team to beat Alabama, dating back to the 2010 season when the Gamecocks upset the No. 1 Crimson Tide 35-21. The Gamecocks will face the Crimson Tide in Columbia on Sept. 14.
“The expectations and the goals don’t change regardless of the season and regardless of the situation,” head coach Will Muschamp told The State at SEC media days. “And that’s the way we approach every year. Our players in our program understand clearly defined the goals of the program every year, the expectation every year.”
Streaks the Gamecocks look to end and continue
South Carolina will attempt to end a five-year losing streak to Kentucky when the Wildcats come to Columbia on Sept. 28. South Carolina’s last win against the Wildcats came in 2013 when the Gamecocks finished 11-2 for the third-straight season.
The Gamecocks will travel to Texas A&M on November 16 to wrap up the SEC schedule. South Carolina is winless against the Aggies since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.
The Aggies and Gamecocks first played each other as SEC opponents to open up the 2014 season, launching the SEC Network.
On the other hand, South Carolina looks to continue winning streaks against Tennessee and Missouri.
The Gamecocks will travel to Missouri to face the Tigers on Sept. 21 and Knoxville, Tennessee to face the Volunteers on Oct. 26.
South Carolina has a three-game winning streak over Tennessee and Missouri, defeating both by field goals in 2018. Will Muschamp is undefeated against Tennessee as a head coach and has not lost to Missouri during his tenure at South Carolina.
“As I told our players, there’s no predictions,” Muschamp said. “It’s not about talking about it, but it’s about being about it.”
The SEC Schedule
Other than facing Alabama, South Carolina’s SEC schedule is no different from a normal season. The Gamecocks will face its six SEC east opponents in addition to cross-division rival Texas A&M.
Since every season’s eight-game conference schedule has to include two SEC West opponents, Alabama happens to be the rotating team for 2019.
“I look at it from a standpoint as a great opportunity for our program to take a step forward,” Muschamp said. “You wanna go to a place like South Carolina. You wanna coach in the Southeastern Conference to be in the limelight, and that’s the opportunity that we have.”
South Carolina’s rotating SEC West teams in Muschamp’s tenure have been Mississippi State in 2016, Arkansas in 2017 and Ole Miss in 2018.