COLUMBIA – When scheduling out-of-conference games, most Power 5 programs usually schedule easy wins where their team can roll out of bed, bury a team by 40 points to move one step closer to bowl eligibility and help fund the opposing team’s athletic budget for that year.
When South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp took the job, he walked into a situation where one of those games just happens to be against one of the best teams in the country in Appalachian State.
“We talk a lot, me, Chance Miller, Charles Waddell and Ray Tanner about all scheduling,” Muschamp said. “We’re attracted to playing the best teams we can play and they certainly have a good football team.”
Muschamp said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if the contract was official before or after he took the job in late 2016, but the Gamecocks are currently scheduled to play the Mountaineers two more times after this season: in Boone in September 2025 and again at Williams-Brice in 2027.
They’re not focused on that right now, because the Gamecocks are trying to get ready for a tough matchup against a borderline top 25 team, Group of 5 or not.
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The Mountaineers started the season 7-0 and skyrocketed all the way up to No. 20 in the AP poll before their first loss of the year last week against Georgia Southern.
They’re still receiving votes in the poll as they get ready to come into Williams-Brice and the Gamecocks know this isn’t a typical non-conference game where they can play bad and still expect to win.
“We’re definitely not going to overlook them. They were undefeated outside of last week. They’re a good team. We know they have good players,” Ernest Jones said. “They have a really good team, and we’re definitely not going to overlook them at all.”
App State already has one win this year over an ACC team, heading up to Chapel Hill and beating North Carolina, a team that beat the Gamecocks 34-31.
The Gamecocks know the Mountaineers are going to “come in here and play,” Dakereon Joyner said, but the team isn’t really talking about the previous upset earlier in the year.
“I think everybody knows that, but I think our biggest challenge is ourselves,” Joyner said. “I think if we handle everything we need to handle on our side of the ball. We’ll take care of business.”
South Carolina’s next four non-conference schedules are already set. They’ll play Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Wofford and Clemson next year before home games against Eastern Illinois, Troy and Clemson in 2021, along with a road trip to East Carolina.
In 2022, they’ll play Georgia State, Charlotte, Wofford and Clemson before starting the 2023 season in Charlotte against North Carolina and hosting Furman, Liberty and Clemson.
“I’m a fan of the opportunity, whether it’s Appalachian State, to play anybody you want to play,” Muschamp said. “That’s how we’re set up right now.
"I don’t have a problem with the model at this point.”