Gamecocks face tough 2012 slate

Schedule features consecutive road games against LSU and Florida

jkendall@thestate.comDecember 28, 2011 

South Carolina and Vanderbilt will kick off the 2012 SEC football schedule on Thursday, Aug. 30, in Nashville, the conference announced Wednesday, but two games against SEC West teams were dominating the conversation.

The Gamecocks will keep traditional SEC West foe Arkansas on the schedule (on Nov. 10 in Williams-Brice Stadium) and will add LSU, which this year is ranked No. 1 heading into the BCS national title game against Alabama. Those are the only two cross-divisional opponents on South Carolina’s new schedule.

“We will worry about the schedule after this ball game,” coach Steve Spurrier said after his team finished its first practice here for Monday’s Capital One Bowl against No. 21 Nebraska. “We’ve got two pretty good ones from (the West).”

Georgia, which won the SEC East this year, for the second year in a row will avoid playing LSU, Alabama or Arkansas. The Bulldogs’ Western Division opponents next year are Ole Miss and Auburn.

“It’s the way it is,” Spurrier said. “It’s called ‘rub of the green.’”

Athletics director Eric Hyman warned fans last week that the difficulty of putting together a schedule on short notice for a 14-team league would lead to some less-than-desirable outcomes.

“The 2012 football schedule has been a huge undertaking by the conference office,” Hyman said in a statement. “Scheduling 13 teams was extremely difficult, but when Missouri was released to join the conference at such a late date, scheduling 14 teams in a tight timeline was awfully challenging. Most schools had to make adjustments from their normal schedules in order to finalize the 2012 schedule.”

The league has played three cross-divisional games since the Gamecocks and Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1992, but this year’s addition of Missouri and Texas A&M forced a reshuffling of the schedule, causing it to be released eight months later than normal.

Missouri, which has been placed in the SEC East, will make its first trip to Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 22. The Gamecocks and Tigers have met twice, with Missouri winning bowl games in 1979 and 2005.

The most significant change in this year’s schedule is the placement of the Georgia game. South Carolina has played the Bulldogs within the first three weeks of the season the past 20 years, but this year’s game won’t be played until Oct. 6 in Williams-Brice Stadium. Since joining the SEC, the Gamecocks have opened SEC play against the Bulldogs 17 times.

South Carolina’s four conference road games are against Vanderbilt, Kentucky (Sept. 29), LSU (Oct. 13) and Florida (Oct. 20).

South Carolina also released its full schedule Wednesday, and the conference schedule did not conflict with the expected dates for next season’s four non-conference opponents. The Gamecocks will play East Carolina on Sept. 8, UAB on Sept. 15, Wofford on Nov. 17 and Clemson on Nov. 24 (in Clemson).

The SEC schedule could have major adjustments again next season. The league announced Wednesday that the 2012 schedule is not based on “any other previous or future schedule formats.” The league’s athletics directors will meet beginning in the spring to work on the schedule for 2013 and beyond.

“The SEC transition team and our athletic directors did a great job with significant logistical challenges in a short time frame in developing the 2012 football conference schedule,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. “The ability to come together for the conference is what makes the SEC so strong and that was evident yet again in this process.”

South Carolina's 2012 schedule

*denotes conference game

Thursday, Aug. 30Vanderbilt*Nashville, Tenn.
Saturday, Sept. 8East CarolinaColumbia, S.C.
Saturday, Sept. 15UABColumbia, S.C.
Saturday, Sept. 22Missouri*Columbia, S.C.
Saturday, Sept. 29Kentucky*Lexington, Ky.
Saturday, Oct. 6Georgia*Columbia, S.C.
Saturday, Oct. 13LSU*Baton Rouge, La.
Saturday, Oct. 20Florida*Gainesville, Fla.
Saturday, Oct. 27Tennessee*Columbia, S.C.
Saturday, Nov. 3OPEN
Saturday, Nov. 10Arkansas*Columbia, S.C.
Saturday, Nov. 17WoffordColumbia, S.C.
Saturday, Nov. 24ClemsonClemson, S.C.

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