Reviewing 2012: The Best and Worst Games

During the season some games seemed great, while others seemed disappointing, and at the time we knew that we were only looking at a sliver of the season and would really know the good and bad performances in hindsight.  Now that the season is over we can look at our opponents' season averages and compare USC's performance against those.  We can then determine which games were our best, and which were our worst.

The theory behind this comparison is that a raw number doesn't tell the whole story.  If South Carolina holds Team A to 200 yards rushing and Team B to 150 yards rushing, is the performance against Team B really better?  It depends on the opponents.  If Team A is Wofford who averaged nearly 350 yards rushing per game and Team B is UAB who averaged just over 110 yards per game, then giving up more yards to Wofford was actually the better performance.

Applying that reasoning and looking at the defense, South Carolina's best defense against the run came against Vanderbilt.  The Commodres averaged166.3 yards rushing per game, and Carolina's defense held them to merely 62 yards.  That difference of 104.3 yards was the greatest of the season.  The best passing defensive game and total defensive game, measured by yards, came against Georgia.  The Bulldogs threw for 176 yards below their season average and gained 244 less total years than their season average.  They also scored 31 fewer points, another Carolina defensive best.

The offense played its best statistical games against three opponents.  Opening night was the best the team would rush all year.  The Gamecocks rolled up 205 yards against a team that would only allow 142 on average for the year.  The best passing game, which resulted in the best total yardage game, was the Outback Bowl.  The Wolverines gave up and average of 170 yards in the air, and Shaw and Thompson lit them up for 341 yards, more than doubling their season average.  USC's 426 total yards were 106 more than the Wolverines were expected to allow.  The best scoring game of the year: East Carolina.  South Carolina put up 48 against and ECU season average of 31.6.

And now for the bad.  LSU was a bad night statistically.  South Carolina's rushing offense and defense as well as total offense and defense were never worse than that Saturday night on the Bayou.  Carolina rushed for 68 yards less than LSU gave up on average and allowed the Tigers to rush for 84 more than their average.  Those numbers created the same effect on total yardage.

Scoring was worst against Florida.  The Gators scored 17.5 more points than their season average.  The Gamecocks scored 3.5 fewer points than a stingy Gator D was expected to allow.  Remember turnovers really, really matter.

Passing futility was divided between two games.  Neither should surprise anyone who watched the whole season.  The Vanderbilt game was the worst passing night for the offense.  67 yards were 125 yards below the Commodore's season average.  Meanwhile the passing defense had their worst game against Tyler Bray and the Volunteers.  The Vols averaged a stout 315.6 through the air, but they lit up Carolina for 381.

South Carolina generally did much better against their opponents than the average.  Florida was the only team to outscore their season average when playing the Gamecocks.  LSU was the only team to exceed their season average in rushing yards or total yards, and the Tigers did both.  In only the Florida and Vanderbilt games did the offense fail to outscore the opponents' season average.