SETTING THE STAGE South Carolina opens its 117th season of intercollegiate football, dating back to 1892, and the 2010 season on Thursday, Sept. 2, against the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi. The contest will be broadcast live to a national television audience on ESPN and streamed online at ESPN3.com. It is the third straight season and the fifth time in six years for South Carolina to open on a Thursday night; the Gamecocks are undefeated (4-0) in those contests.
This is the 104th consecutive year in which the University of South Carolina has fielded a football team; the school did not compete in 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 534-536-44.
THE SERIES Tonight marks the first football meeting between South Carolina and Southern Miss.
QUICK HITS South Carolina is 76-36-4 (.672) all-time in season-openers. The Gamecocks have won 10 consecutive season-opening games and 13 out of the last 14.
Coach Steve Spurrier is 19-1 all-time in season openers as a collegiate head coach. His only season-opening loss, ironically, was a 27-21 loss to the Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Sept. 2, 1989 - 21 years ago today - while the head coach at Duke.
The Gamecocks are 6-2 in Thursday night games over the last five seasons, including 4-0 in season-openers. Carolina went 2-0 in mid-week contests last season, defeating NC State 7-3 in the season opener and taking down No. 4 Ole Miss 16-10 on Sept. 24.
South Carolina has won six straight non-conference home games, dating back to the 2008 season opener.
For the second straight year, the Gamecocks were picked to finish third in the SEC Eastern Division. This comes after a seven-year stretch in which South Carolina was tabbed for a fourth-place finish.
South Carolina returns starters to 17 positions from the 2010 squad that finished 7-6 overall, 3-5 in SEC play. That includes eight on offense, seven on defense and two on special teams.
Of the 22 starters in last year's opener against NC State, 17 are still on the roster (9 offense, 8 defense).
A South Carolina win over Southern Miss would...
Give the Gamecocks their 11th straight season-opening win.
Give South Carolina a 5-1 record in home openers under Steve Spurrier.
Move Steve Spurrier to 39-0 all-time against schools in non-BCS automatic qualifier conferences.
Give South Carolina a 27-3 record in home non-conference games since 2000.
Give the Gamecocks a win in their home opener for the eighth time in the last nine years.
Move South Carolina to 9-1 in its last 10 games at Williams-Brice Stadium.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: SOUTHERN MISS Southern Miss is in its third year under head coach Larry Fedora. The Golden Eagles are 14-12 under Fedora, who is in his first head coaching job. The Golden Eagles went 7-6 last season and played in the New Orleans Bowl, falling to Middle Tennessee 42-32. This is the first meeting between South Carolina and Southern Miss.
TIES WITH SOUTHERN MISS Assistant Head Coach Ellis Johnson was an assistant coach at Southern Miss in 1988-89.
Southern Miss junior LB Tim Green is a native of Columbia and a graduate of Spring Valley High School.
THE GAMECOCKS AND NO. 4 Brett Favre, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history, played his college ball at Southern Miss. But in his NFL career, he has taken a liking to a number of former Gamecock receivers. Of Favre's 497 career touchdown passes, 80 of them (16%) have been to South Carolina alumni. Of his first 51 TD passes as a pro, 36 went to Carolina receivers.
SPURRIER VS. SOUTHERN MISS South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier owns a perfect 3-0 mark all-time against Southern Miss with all three contests coming in Gainesville, Fla., while he was head coach at Florida from 1990-2001.
Nov. 7, 1992: Florida 24, Southern Miss 20
Nov. 5, 1994: Florida 55, Southern Miss 17
Aug. 30, 1997: Florida 21, Southern Miss 6
GAMECOCKS VS. CONFERENCE USA South Carolina owns an 18-13-0 all-time record against current members of Conference USA. Of those 31 contests, 15 have come against East Carolina (10-5), four against Memphis (2-2) and three each against UCF (3-0), Houston (1-2) and Tulane (0-3).
PERFECT AGAINST NON-AQ SCHOOLS Head Coach Steve Spurrier is a perfect 38-0 all-time against schools outside of BCS automatic qualifier conferences, including a 12-0 mark since coming to South Carolina. He defeated Florida Atlantic and South Carolina State in 2009, and will have a chance to extend his mark with 2010 games against Southern Miss, Furman and Troy.
KICKING THINGS OFF... The Gamecocks are 76-36-4 in season openers, a .672 winning percentage. The Gamecocks have wins in each of their last 10 and in 13 of their last 14 season lidlifters. The only loss in that stretch was a 10-0 setback at NC State in the 1999 season opener.
HOME OPENERS South Carolina opens its 76th season of football at Williams-Brice Stadium when Southern Miss comes to town on Thursday. In 116 previous years of intercollegiate football, the Gamecocks are 79-29-7 (.724) all-time in their initial home contest of the season (no home games in 1892). Since joining the SEC, Carolina is 13-5 in home openers.
THE HEAD BALL COACH IN OPENERS Head Coach Steve Spurrier is 19-1 in season-opening games in his 20 seasons as a collegiate head coach. The only loss in that stretch was, ironically, a 27-21 loss to the Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Sept. 2, 1989 - 21 years ago today - when he was the head ball coach in his final season at Duke. That Blue Devil squad went on to win the ACC title that season. The USC victory was led by the great Todd Ellis, who is now the play-by-play voice of Gamecock Football. Since that time, Coach Spurrier has won 17 straight season opening games with his squad scoring 40 or more points in 10 of those 17 games.
THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIALS This marks the sixth-straight season in which the Gamecocks will play at least one Thursday night contest. They are 6-2 over the past five years in Thursday night specials; 4-0 when those contests are the opening game of the season.
Sept. 1, 2005: Carolina 24, UCF 15 (Columbia)
Aug. 31, 2006: Carolina 15, Miss. State 0 (Starkville)
Sept. 24, 2009: Carolina 16, Ole Miss 10 (Columbia)
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE The Gamecocks were 4-1 in non-conference action in 2009. They defeated NC State, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina State and Clemson in the regular season before falling to UConn in the bowl game. They are 17-6 in non-conference games under Steve Spurrier, including wins in 15 of their last 19 non-league tilts. The year-by-year breakdown: 2005 (2-2); 2006 (5-0); 2007 (3-1); 2008 (3-2); 2009 (4-1).