If there was one particularly hard lesson to learn from Carolina’s groan-inducing 2014 campaign, it’s to never be too confident. Don’t mistake this for “never have faith”, as where would any team be if their fans never believed in them? What this simply means is that we all have to acknowledge that in the SEC, the premier football conference, even the worst teams are going to be some level of good. Sometimes good means winning a National Championship. Other times it means just being really annoying to the superior team.
Let’s face it, though. As fans, we can’t help ourselves. We have expectations, just like we do when we order the baked potato at Outback Steakhouse with extra sour cream. That sour cream should be in a large dish so that I can just dunk every forkful of potato before I bite. And when I order the Mudslide from Applebee’s, I expect them to just leave a pint of vanilla ice cream, a full bottle of Kahlúa, and a full tin tub in which to bathe. So let’s prepare you to have expectations, so each loss can further destroy your soul and any means of happiness in your life!
Game One: vs. North Carolina
First, hold a nice big celebration to mark the first game of the season. Are there balloons? Make sure there’s balloons. Grill whatever delicious meat is your favorite, and make sure there’s enough for leftovers. You’re going to need them the next day when you wake up with a Bud Light Lime-induced hangover. Begrudgingly invite that neighbor that you like well-enough, but who knows nothing about football at all. Normally you’re annoyed by all of their stupid questions, but your enthusiasm should have no bounds. You should be in the kind of mood that nothing could possibly ruin this beautiful Thursday evening of college football. Nothing… except a loss.
Game Two: vs. Kentucky
Images of Jojo Kemp keep running through your head, just as quickly as he ran through South Carolina’s linebacking crew last year. Calmly disregard those extremely traumatic memories, though, because after last year’s game, Kemp’s numbers were catastrophic, as he only had 20 carries the rest of the season for just 37 yards. Compare that to the game against USC where he had 17 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns. See, it was a fluke! Nothing to worry about! It’s not like Kentucky has 21 other players in their starting lineup or anything. I bet they don’t even have a quarterback! Patrick Towles? More like get me a towel, because I am very sweaty. It’s late May, you guys, cut me some slack. This humidity, am I right?!
Game Three: at Georgia
Come on, it’s Georgia. Spend the whole week leading up to the game watching four of the five previous games in the series (sorry 2013) and just marvel at how these Gamecock teams with rosters of totally different players managed to beat Georgia, with their entirely different roster of players. Remember, USC won last year, so they have momentum. Again, disregard all the different players in the game this year, and have confidence that Georgia is just going to poop the bed, as usual.
Game Four: vs. UCF
Who cares that it’s a home game? You’re going to be so overconfident, that you will actually take a trip out to Orlando, home of UCF, and stay at Disney World. You can watch the game at one of those bars at Pleasure Island, and order plate after plate of 30-dollar boneless wings that taste like cardboard in soap sauce. Make sure you wear your Carolina colors too, and keep shouting after every play. Good plays, bad plays, penalties, commercial breaks, whatever. People WANT to hear your opinions while vacationing with their families and making magical memories. You’re as important as any gross teen in a Goofy costume.
Game Five: at Missouri
Have faith in the fact that Missouri is bringing back Maty Mauk as their starting quarterback. Mauk, for those of you who haven’t seen him play, is kind of a mess. He has zero arm strength, few intangibles, and looks like Zach Galifinakis if he lost too much weight and decided to get into working out and the Dave Matthews Band. Almost all of Missouri’s success last season was due to their awesome defense, which couldn’t possibly be that great again, right? Sure, they had Michael Sam as the SEC Defensive Player of the year in 2013, and Shane Ray with the same award again in 2014, but those were… aberrations. Yeah. Missouri totally can’t get better on defense because it’s impossible. There, I said it.
Game Six: vs. LSU
LSU never starts off the season strong, so there’s a lot of natural overconfidence to be had just by looking at the two records on paper. You should absolutely forget about every LSU team of the past ten years, because if you do, you’ll just remember that they’re secretly very good and that Les Miles is a kooky genius. Plus, this isn’t really a rivalry game, so you should make plans to accidentally forget about it and make dinner plans, and just follow along on your phone. Hey, USC is going to win anyways, so why watch? Easy peasy, lemon squeazy. Oh, but be sure to still annoy your dinner guests with football talk. Have they seen your “homemade” Pharaoh Cooper jersey, which is actually just a Matt Leinart jersey you bought in junior high, that you’ve now painted white on to cover the yellow secondary color. Nice stitching.
Game Seven: vs. Vanderbilt
HAHAHAHA! Vanderbilt?! More like Verybad! Yeah, keep the ribs coming, y’all. This is a party game deluxe. After all, by this point, USC will be 6-0, and likely full of some very overconfident players themselves. In order to maintain overconfidence, shotgun a beer for every point Vanderbilt is down by. So if they’re only down two, you can slam a couple beers and get a little more loose and ready to yell at the television screen/field, depending on whether you’re watching from home or at the game. Naturally, if Vanderbilt is down by, say, 14, then you can get black-out drunk, and just enjoy the whole second half. Make up some stats to yell at people in the bathroom at Willy B. I guarantee you they will yell those same stats back in your face, and give you a high five. Now that’s a dedicated fanbase.