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Couch Potato: South Carolina debut highlights football season return

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Steve Spurrier is in his 10th year as Head Ball Coach at South Carolina, where he has won 11 games each of the last three years.  The Gamecocks are a national championship contender this season. (Source: Keith Allison/flickr/image cropped) Steve Spurrier is in his 10th year as Head Ball Coach at South Carolina, where he has won 11 games each of the last three years. The Gamecocks are a national championship contender this season. (Source: Keith Allison/flickr/image cropped)
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(RNN) - The long months of darkness and despair are at last at an end. Football season begins in earnest Thursday – I'm not counting that monstrosity last Saturday at the place in Washington with the bright red field. I still have an eye twitch. Real ball is underway. Rejoice. 

Thursday, Aug. 28

Texas A&M at No. 9 South Carolina

The greatest SEC season opener since last year kicks at 5 p.m. ET on the SEC Network, which is the best thing to happen to the South since the invention of air conditioning.

We find out if the Gamecocks are prepped for a relentless slaughter march to world domination or if they're just going to have another 11-win season and not get a whiff of a national championship. Winning 11 games three years in a row at South Carolina is a middle-sized miracle, but if the Young Ball Coach still possesses water-walking capability in his twilight years, this is the season we find out.

We also find out if Texas A&M will become the SEC dumpster diver it was predicted to be when it joined the league two years ago, back before we knew that Manziel kid was a killing machine. The Aggie defense has been retooled, and not a moment too soon, since it offered slightly more resistance than high humidity the last two years, forcing Manziel to score every other play to stay in the game. This was fun to watch, don't get me wrong.

Kenny Hill is the sophomore quarterback who won the start away from highly touted freshman Kyle Allen. He has the proper pedigree to succeed party animal Johnny Football – at 3 o'clock on a fine March morning last spring police found him passed out drunk in a planter outside a College Station restaurant. He replied “Bush” when authorities asked who the current president was - he must have thought they were asking him what kind of plant he was sleeping under. So off he went to jail.

If the kid goes all Kenny Football on the Gamecocks, then it's money signs, scandal and fun ahoy. If Gamecock defenders pummel him into agitation and humility, then everybody will go, “Why didn't you start the freshman, Coach Kevin Sumlin?! He was highly touted!”

And it will be a mess, which will be a less enjoyable sort of fun.

South Carolina is a 10.5-point favorite, and the over-under is 57. 

Boise State at No. 18 Ole Miss

The Broncos used to be the little team that people who didn't know any better used to say was good enough to be a contender for the national championship. Nobody says that much anymore.

Ole Miss is the up-and-coming team in the SEC after coach Hugh Freeze directed the Rebels to a 15-11 record over the past two years. Yes, that doesn't sound like much, but it was a good 15-11. He has put together a couple of good recruiting years, and third-year starting quarterback Bo Wallace has been a solid passer, though he tends to throw it to the other team by accident a lot and he infamously fumbled on the 1 against Mississippi State in last year's Egg Bowl. 

He had the most golden, flowing locks in football history until he got a haircut this year, which makes him look like that Viking vampire on True Blood.

The Rebels have a good defense, especially the secondary. That Cody Prewitt kid had six interceptions last year and made All-American.

Ole Miss is a 9.5 point favorite and this one is in the Georgia Dome in the Chicken Sandwich preseason game.

Temple at Vanderbilt

The Derek Mason era begins after James Franklin jumped ship to go coach Penn State. Other than that, well, let's see... last year, Temple went 8-1 against the spread as an underdog and 5-1 ATS as a road dog, so if you're gambling, take Temple. That's the only reason to watch this game I can think of – other than being a graduate of Vandy, Temple or both.

Vanderbilt's football team might make a good basketball team this year. The 6'4" tall Patton Robinette has been named the Vandy quarterback, beating out the 6'7" Stephen Rivers, the brother of NFL QB Phillip. Rivers is from Athens, AL, the home of great band The Alabama Shakes, an amazing band to which you should listen.  

Robinette started a couple of games last year, including the win at Florida after the Gators had folded their tent.

He threw a lot of interceptions. This game starts at 9:15 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

 Saturday's games will be featured in another edition of Couch Potato to run in the very near future.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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