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SC to open next season with Southern Miss on ESPN the first game of the year


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USC will open vs. Southern Miss next season

North Carolina game moved to 2013

Written by Joseph Person

South Carolina is fast becoming a regular on the Thursday night TV lineup.

The Gamecocks will open the 2010 and 2013 seasons with nationally televised, home Thursday night games against Southern Miss and North Carolina, USC announced Wednesday.

ESPN will broadcast the games to start the college football season. USC has opened on ESPN’s Thursday night package in four of Steve Spurrier’s five seasons.

USC worked with ESPN to shuffle its 2010 schedule when North Carolina asked out of next year’s game in Columbia to face LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Southern Miss will face USC for the first time. The Conference USA school has played in bowl games seven consecutive years and 11 of the past 12 seasons.

ESPN will contribute $50,000 toward the $900,000 guarantee Southern Miss will receive, USC media relations director Steve Fink said. The network also helped USC shift next year’s Troy game at Williams-Brice Stadium from Sept. 4 to Nov. 20, the week before the Gamecocks travel to Clemson.

That change – coupled with the move of the Furman game from Oct. 2 to Sept. 18 – will give USC an open week a third of the way through the season (Oct. 2) rather than 11 weeks into it.

The only time USC has beaten Clemson under Spurrier was 2006 when the Gamecocks thumped Middle Tennessee a week before going to Death Valley.

But Spurrier did not sound overly concerned about the schedule changes.

“Whatever they say schedule-wise,” Spurrier said. “I’ve got enough issues trying to score touchdowns from the 10-yard line. That’s our issue right now on offense, as well as a lot of others.”

When ESPN and North Carolina mentioned moving the 2010 game in Columbia, USC athletics director Eric Hyman said he would only do so if his alma mater agreed to reschedule it within a few years.

USC increased the buyout from the original contract $50,000 to $800,000, which is what North Carolina would owe if it backs out of the 2013 game.

The Gamecocks beat UNC 21-15 in 2007 in Chapel Hill, but trail the all-time series 34-17-4. EXTRA POINTS Former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who played for Spurrier in Gainesville, addressed the team before Wednesday’s practice. Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 during the Gators’ national championship season, was in Columbia for a fundraising event for his Desire Street Ministries. …

REVISED 2010 USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

Sept. 2 SOUTHERN MISS

Sept. 11 GEORGIA

Sept. 18 FURMAN

Sept. 25 at Auburn

Oct. 2 OPEN DATE

Oct. 9 ALABAMA

Oct. 16 at Kentucky

Oct. 23 at Vanderbilt

Oct. 30 TENNESSEE

Nov. 6 ARKANSAS

Nov. 13 at Florida

Nov. 20 TROY

Nov. 27 at Clemson

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