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Lucky Number Seven?

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The University of South Carolina football team is ranked seventh in the nation according to the USA Today/ Coaches’ 2013 preseason rankings – one spot ahead of arch-rival Clemson University. That’s the highest preseason ranking in school history – two spots ahead of last year’s No. 9 preseason ranking.

Like we said … “believe the hype.”

After defeating Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl, head coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks finished last season ranked No. 8 nationally in the Associated Press and No. 7 in the coaches’ poll – the program’s second consecutive Top Ten finish. Meanwhile Clemson cracked the USA/Today Top 10 (No. 9) and finished No. 11 in the AP Top 25 on the strength of its big Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU.

It was the first time in history both programs finished a season ranked in the Top Ten …

The 2013 Gamecocks are led by superstar Jadeveon Clowney – a Heisman Trophy candidate and likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. The 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end was a unanimous All-American last year – setting school records for sacks (13) and tackles for losses (23.5). Clemson is led by its own Heisman Trophy candidate – quarterback Tajh Boyd. In two seasons as a starter, Boyd has thrown has thrown for 8,053 yards and 73 touchdowns in offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ up-tempo offense.

Bottom line? It’s a great time to follow college football in the Palmetto State.

South Carolina is one of five Southeastern Conference teams ranked in the USA Today Top 10. Defending national champion Alabama leads off at No. 1, followed by Georgia (No. 5) and Texas A&M (No. 6). Florida is ranked No. 10 – three spots behind the Gamecocks.

Clemson opens its 2013 season at home on August 31 against Georgia – a game which will be televised nationally by ABC at 8:00 p.m. EDT. South Carolina opens its season on August 29 against North Carolina – a game which will be televised nationally on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

The following week, USC travels to Athens, Georgia in search of its fourth consecutive win over the Bulldogs.

Anyway, here’s the poll …

usa today

1. Alabama (13-1) 1545
2. Ohio State (12-0) 1427
3. Oregon (12-1) 1397
4. Stanford (12-2) 1262
5. Georgia (12-2) 1250
6. Texas A&M (11-2) 1215
7. South Carolina (11-2) 1136
8. Clemson (11-2) 1047
9. Louisville (11-2) 1010
10. Florida (11-2) 930
11. Notre Dame (12-1) 872
12. Florida State (12-2) 844
13. LSU (10-3) 797
14. Oklahoma State (8-5) 726
15. Texas (9-4) 622
16. Oklahoma (10-3) 620
17. Michigan (8-5) 589
18. Nebraska (10-4) 426
19. Boise State (11-2) 420
20. TCU (7-6) 400
21. UCLA (9-5) 202
22. Northwestern (10-3) 186
23. Wisconsin (8-6) 172
24. Southern California (7-6) 165
25. Oregon State (9-4) 135

Others receiving votes: Kansas State (11-2) 113; Miami (Fla.) (7-5) 101; Michigan State (7-6) 89; Baylor (8-5) 80; Virginia Tech (7-6) 65; Fresno State (9-4) 62; Arizona State (8-5) 51; Mississippi (7-6) 32; Vanderbilt (9-4) 29; Utah State (11-2) 23; Brigham Young (8-5) 20; North Carolina (8-4) 19; Northern Illinois (12-2) 19; Tulsa (11-3) 9; Ohio (9-4) 8; San Jose State (11-2) 8; Arizona (8-5) 5; Cincinnati (10-3) 3; East Carolina (8-5) 3; Kent State (11-3) 3; Mississippi State (8-5) 3; Washington (7-6) 3; Central Florida (10-4) 2; Arkansas (4-8) 1; Arkansas State (10-3) 1; Rutgers (9-4) 1; Tennessee (5-7) 1; Toledo (9-4) 1.