South Carolina Gamecocks
Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
2013-14 Record: 11-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 34-24 win over Wisconsin in Capitol One Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +4790
Offense: 8, Defense: 6
The Gamecocks figure to have one of the best offensive lines in the SEC with four starters returning—a group that will protect senior quarterback Dylan Thompson, who has been waiting patiently to replace Connor Shaw.
Thompson will be aided by a deep backfield that includes a possible Heisman Trophy candidate in Mike Davis, while the wide receivers and tight ends return en masse, with the exception of Bruce Ellington.
College football handicappers need to know about Davis, who turned in the fourth-best rushing season in school history with 1,183 yards last year. He has the strength to run between the tackles, but also has the speed to break a long run.
Spurrier hasn’t had a first-team All-SEC lineman in his type in Columbia, but he believes this group will end that stretch, with the most likely candidates being senior left guard A.J. Cann, senior left tackle Corey Robinson and junior right tackle Brandon Shell.
The losses of Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles are certainly big, but eight players who earned letters last season return on the defensive line—led by fifth-year senior J.T. Surratt.
Considered the weakest link of the Gamecock defense entering 2013, the linebacker corps now represents the strength of the stop unit.
South Carolina’s biggest concern entering the fall lies at the cornerback position, as starters Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton are gone, while it also must replace top reserve Ahmad Christian.
Perhaps the leader of the entire defense will be senior safety Brison Williams, who has made 24 starts since arriving on campus.
The Gamecocks will put their 18-game home winning streak on the line in their opener against Texas A&M, which happens to be the longest in the nation to keep in mind when looking over the college football odds page.
South Carolina doesn’t play Alabama or LSU this season, but it must contend with both Auburn and Florida on the road during conference play, while finishing things out against in-state rival Clemson in Death Valley.
Spurrier has a great opportunity to reach the SEC championship game with this group, especially since it has two timely bye weeks to break up the season.
Thompson is a capable player, and Davis is the type of running back that can take over a game like Marcus Lattimore use to do in Columbia.
A fourth consecutive 11-win season is not out of the realm of possibility.
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