Who Else? What to expect when you're expecting

Posted by David Cloninger on August 28, 2013 

Victor Hampton is the latest addition to the injury report.

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com

“What did you expect?”
----------- ARCHERS OF LOAF

I know a lot of folks like to go through schedules, game-by-game, and pick results. I avoid it. There’s simply no way of knowing what’s going to happen after the first game, with injuries, trends, etc., to sit there in August and pick a score for a game in late November.

What I like to do is group the games of the season into three categories – Should Win, Should Lose and Flex. Naturally, there are a lot of Flex games from year to year and this season is no exception.

SHOULD WIN
Vanderbilt
Yes, the Commodores aren’t your daddy’s Commodores, but they lost a good chunk of talent and it’s a home game.

Kentucky
The Wildcats are loading up on talent for next year (Woodruff’s Blake Bone committed on Tuesday), but this year, eeep.

Missouri
Perhaps I’ll change my mind when this game gets closer, but despite all the talk about how Missouri isn’t shocked by the SEC anymore, and even being on the road, I don’t see USC losing this game, or even USC maybe losing this game. Another reason why is explained in the “Should Lose” section.

Mississippi State
Remember when the Bulldogs began 7-0 last year? Me neither.

Coastal Carolina
Trap, looking ahead, whatever. No way the Gamecocks lose this (although it could be close, as these in-state non-con games sometimes are).

SHOULD LOSE
Arkansas
I know it’s presumptuous to say that they “should” lose this game, but I look at how the Gamecocks have hardly ever played well at Arkansas, and the fact that they could very well start 5-0 (thus triggering the thought of, “When’s the toe-stubbing going to happen?”), and see this as a loss. The way I look at it, it’s the game that gets them re-focused on finishing their business. Missouri follows two weeks after.

FLEX
North Carolina
Two things – the Tar Heels’ explosive offense going against a defense that’s filling holes in the middle, and USC’s lousy history in opening games. I just can’t pick it as a definite win, although I think USC will win.

Georgia
In Athens, big-time offense, Bulldogs could be feeling the need to win if they’ve already dropped their opener. I think a lot depends on how well Georgia plays against Clemson to start the season. USC’s winning streak has to end sometime.

UCF
It’s an unknown, really. Nobody’s talking about this game because of the first two. Who knows what lurks in the heart of George O’Leary?

Tennessee
Hey, Dave, you said that the Arkansas loss would re-focus USC and Tennessee follows Arkansas so what’s going on? It’s on the road, it’s against a team that is also learning under a new coach. I think USC will win, but I can’t pick it as a definite. If Justin Worley is the starter for this game, I’d put it in the “Should Win” category (boy just doesn’t like playing some of the guys that are currently at USC), but there’s no guarantee of that.

Florida
Could be for the SEC East. The defense remains stout. The offense isn’t great but if this game is for the East, X’s and O’s go out the window.

Clemson
Streak has to end sometime. I personally don’t think it will, because it should come down to what it’s come down to the last four years – strength up front. USC has it. Clemson doesn’t. But it’s a long time until Nov. 30.

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