Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Can South Carolina still have a path to bowl eligibility in 2016.

Bowl Eligibility Watch 

Will Muschamp. Image via Garnet and Black Attack/USA Today.

Will Muschamp's first year as head coach of South Carolina hasn't been much to write home about (unless you're a Clemson fan). The Gamecocks are 3-4 through Week 8 of the 2016 college football season, and need three victories to salvage the season through becoming for a postseason bowl

Three more wins will be a difficult task. South Carolina still has three SEC East opponents (Tennessee, Missouri, and Florida) to face in the 2016 season, and the season-ending rivalry game against Clemson to qualify for a postseason bowl.

Here's South Carolina's remaining 2016 regular season schedule.

Week 9 (10/29) vs. Tennessee

Will Muschamp led Florida to four straight wins against Tennessee as the Gators' head coach. The caveat to that is that first two those came in the disastrous Derek Dooley era in Knoxville, and Butch Jones' first two seasons in which he had to rebuild the Vols in the wake of Dooley.

South Carolina itself  is 0-3 in the last three meetings against Tennessee. The Vols are coming off a bye week, and looking to rebound after losing to Alabama 49-10 in Week 7. A win against South Carolina will make Tennessee bowl eligible. A win against The Vols would be a huge win for the struggling Gamecocks, but it will be tough to pull off.

Week 10 (11/5) vs. Missouri

The Missouri game may be the best chance for South Carolina to score a win against the one of the remaining teams on the SEC's  schedule. The Tigers are 2-5, and winless in the SEC. Missouri was 1-2 against Florida when Muschamp was the Gators head coach.

Missouri will coming off a Week 9 meeting with Kentucky, which is currently (and inexplicably) second in the SEC East. A win there could have the Tigers looking to necessitate its season. At best, Missouri-South Carolina is going to be a game to see which team doesn't come up last in the division.

Week 11 (11/12) @Florida

South Carolina went 3-1 against Florida when Will Muschamp was the Gators head coach. That happens to be one of the reasons why Muschamp was fired by Florida near the end of the 2014 season.

Florida is currently at the top of the SEC East under second year head coach Jim McElwain. The Gators beat the Gamecocks 24-14 last season, and went on to win the SEC East. This year's game could determine whether Florida or Tennessee will represent the division in this season's SEC Championship Game.

The Gamecocks best hope for a win could be if Florida is caught looking ahead to the its rescheduled game against LSU.

Week 12 (11/19) vs. Western Carolina (FBS)

South Carolina's most embarrassing lost last season was arguably against FCS Division program The Citadel. Muschamp already has an embarrassing FCS loss on his coaching record via Georgia Southern's upset win over Florida in 2013. The Catamounts are 1-6 so far this season, so beating the Gamecocks probably isn't going to happen.

This will be South Carolina's most probable place for a win this season. That Citadel game, though...

Week 13 (11/26) @Clemson

The Gamecocks' 2009-2013 five-game winning streak Clemson seems ancient history in the wake of the Tigers' recent dominance. Clemson has won its last two meetings with the Gamecocks, and this year doesn't really look like the outcome will be any different.

Clemson could be South Carolina's last chance for that sixth win in 2016. Honestly, it's not very likely.

The APR factor.

If not enough FBS Division schools have at least 6-6 record by the end of 2016 regular season the FCS schools with the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) may be considered for a bowl.

South Carolina's APR is currently ranked 70th. The APR route for a bowl is out of the question.

Going 6-6 is theoretically doable for South Carolina, but will take upsetting Tennessee, Florida, or Clemson to do it.

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