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Everything you need to know about the Gamecocks' season opener against the Aggies.

After nine months of anticipation, major college football is finally back. And, as has been the case so often in recent years, a South Carolina game brings about the dawn of the new season.

The first live football game on the SEC Network. The first-ever meeting between two permanent rivals. The Thursday night meeting between the Aggies and Gamecocks is all that and more. Both teams are replacing the best quarterbacks ever to play at their school. Both teams lost linemen and wide receivers to the early rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. Both have reloaded with talented but untested players.

The first test comes tonight.

TV: 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor)

Radio: South CarolinaTexas A&M

Online streaming: WatchESPN

The numbers

Rankings and records: South Carolina enters 2014 ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll, coming off an 11-2 year and just missing out on an SEC Championship Game appearance. Texas A&M was 9-4 last season and starts the post-Johnny Manziel era at No. 20 in the Coaches' Poll and No. 21 in the AP Top 25.

Vegas: South Carolina opened as a big 13-point favorite. Bettors have given A&M a little credit, but the Gamecocks are still favored by 10.5 at most sportsbooks. The over/under is hanging around 57.

Weather forecast: It's going to be a hot and sunny one in Columbia, with a high of 97 and a low of 69.

Four Aggies who should concern Gamecock fans

Cedric Ogbuehi - Texas A&M has put its starting left tackle in the first round of the last two NFL Drafts, and the Aggies may yet make it three in a row. The 6'5, 305 senior anchors a strong A&M offensive line that returns every starter save Jake Matthews, who was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ogbuehi outweighs South Carolina's projected starters at defensive end by an average of 47.5 pounds.

Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil - Were it not for these two dangerous wide receivers, it would be easier to dismiss first-time starter Kenny Hill's chances of lighting up South Carolina's talented but inexperienced secondary. Seals-Jones is a behemoth cut from the Alshon Jeffery/Mike Evans mold. Speedy Noil is exactly what his first names suggests, and in addition to lining up at wideout, he returns punts. Hey, does South Carolina have any difficulty doing things like defending punt returns?

Drew Kaser - Texas A&M's senior punter represented the Aggies at SEC Media Days this year. This was a bountiful source of internet jokez because #LOLPUNTERS, but the truth is South Carolina frequently loses games at the hands of skilled kicking specialists on the other side and its own punt-returning ineptitude on its own. So pardon our lack of amusement. Ace Sanders has been the only specialist capable of being productive in the return game. There's some optimism that Pharoh Cooper can replicate his production, but the limited results in 2014 (Cooper took over for Bruce Ellington halfway through the season) weren't overly encouraging.

Required reading

Garnet And Black Attack goes inside the Midnight Yell

Breaking down South Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Bill Connelly's big Texas A&M preview

Bill Connelly's big South Carolina preview

Required listening

Updated South Carolina depth chart

Offense

WR 4 Shaq Roland 6'1 176 JR-2L Lexington, S.C.

1 Damiere Byrd 5'9 170 SR-3L Sicklerville, N.J.
8 Shamier Jeffery 6'1 198 JR-1L St. Matthews, S.C.
14 Shaq Davidson 5'11 170 FR-HS Gaffney, S.C.
WR 11 Pharoh Cooper 6'1 201 SO-1L Havelock, N.C.

80 K.J. Brent 6'4 192 JR-2L Waxhaw, N.C.
9 Deebo Samuel 6'0 192 FR-HS Inman, S.C.
WR 3 Nick Jones 5'7 168 SR-3L Moore, S.C.
83 Carlton Heard 6'0 188 JR-SQ Athens, Ga.
85 Kane Whitehurst 5'11 169 JR-1L Duluth, Ga.
19 Terry Googer 6'4 210 FR-HS Atlanta, Ga.
LT 53 Corey Robinson 6'8 344 SR-2L Havelock, N.C.
74 Mason Zandi 6'9 301 SO-1L Irmo, S.C.
LG 50 A.J. Cann 6'4 311 SR-3L Bamberg, S.C.
75 Will Sport 6'5 291 JR-2L Milton, Fla.
C 54 Clayton Stadnik 6'3 273 SO-1L Greensboro, N.C.
OR 75 Will Sport 6'5 291 JR-2L Milton, Fla.
RG 51 Cody Waldrop 6'2 309 SO-1L Seffner, Fla.
70 Alan Knott 6'4 280 FR-RS Tyrone, Ga.
RT 71 Brandon Shell 6'6 333 JR-2L Goose Creek, S.C.
55 Na'Ty Rodgers 6'5 280 FR-RS Waldor, Md.
TE 81 Rory Anderson 6'5 227 SR-3L Powder Springs, Ga.
89 Jerell Adams 6'6 242 JR-2L Pinewood, S.C.
90 Cody Gibson 6'7 278 SR-3L Tallahassee, Fla.
88 Drew Owens 6'6 238 JR-1L Charlotte, N.C.
QB 17 Dylan Thompson 6'3 218 SR-3L Boling Springs, S.C.
10 Perry Orth 6'1 204 SO-SQ Ponte Vedra, Fla.
6 Connor Mitch 6'3 211 FR-RS Raleigh, N.C.
FB 41 Connor McLaurin 6'0 243 SR-2L Raleigh, N.C.
31 Jordan Diaz 6'1 236 SR-1L Hamilton, N.J.
TB 28 Mike Davis 5'9 223 JR-2L Atlanta, Ga.
22 Brandon Wilds 6'2 222 JR-2L Blythewood, S.C.
7 Shon Carson 5'8 201 JR-1L Scranton, S.C.
33 David Williams 6'1 214 FR-RS Philadelphia, Pa.

Defense

DE 44 Gerald Dixon 6'2 274 SO-1L Rock Hill, S.C.
34 Mason Harris 6'3 235 JR-2L Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
DT 97 J.T. Surratt 6'2 274 SR-1L Winston-Salem, N.C.
52 Phillip Dukes 6'3 323 JR-2L Manning, S.C.
93 Deon Green 6'4 289 SO-SQ Windemere, Fla.
DT 92 Gerald Dixon, Jr. 6'3 323 JR-2L Rock Hill, S.C.
99 Abu Lamin 6'4 302 SO-TR Fayetteville, N.C.
94 Kelsey Griffin 6'2 310 SO-1L Buford, Ga.
DE 5 Darius English 6'6 241 SO-1L Powder Springs, Ga.
55 David Johnson 6'1 275 FR-RS Lithonia, Ga.
18 Cedrick Cooper 6'2 225 JR-2L Lithonia, Ga.
MLB 11 T.J. Holloman 6'2 234 SO-1L Stone Mountain, Ga.
8 Kaiwan Lewis 6'0 228 JR-2L Mays Landing, N.J.
21 Marcquis Roberts 6'1 216 SO-1L Powder Springs, Ga.
WLB 28 Jonathan Walton 6'0 228 SO-1L Daphne, Ala.
10 Skai Moore 6'2 213 SO-1L Cooper City, Fla.
4 Bryson Allen-Williams 6'1 231 FR-HS Ellenwood, Ga.
SPR 9 Sharrod Golightly 5'10 187 SR-3L Decatur, Ga.
42 Jordan Diggs 6'0 217 SO-1L Fort Myers, Fla.
32 Larenz Bryant 6'0 220 SO-1L Charlotte, N.C.
CB 12 Brison Williams 5'11 208 SR-3L Warner Robins, Ga.
3 Chris Lammons 5'10 172 FR-HS Sunrise, Fla.
30 Sidney Rhodes 5'10 182 SR-2L Easley, S.C.
SS 6 Chris Moody 6'1 210 SO-1L McDonough, Ga.
25 Kadetrix Marcus 6'1 194 SR-2L Stone Mountain, Ga.
FS 17 Chaz Elder 6'2 195 SO-1L Union City, Ga.
20 T.J. Gurley 5'10 194 JR-2L Cairo, Ga.
26 Jasper Sasser 6'0 203 FR-RS Jacksonville, Fla.
CB 31 Al Harris, Jr. 5'11 162 FR-HS Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
1 Rico McWilliams 5'11 184 SO-1L Hampton, Ga.
7 Wesley Green 5'10 176 FR-HS Lithonia, Ga.

Special Teams

KO 19 Landon Ard 5'9 178 JR-1L Rock Hill, S.C.
29 Elliott Fry 6'0 165 SO-1L Frisco, Texas
PK 29 Elliott Fry 6'0 165 SO-1L Frisco, Texas
19 Landon Ard 5'9 178 JR-1L Rock Hill, S.C.
P 13 Tyler Hull 6'2 207 SR-2L Mount Airy, N.C.
18 Patrick Fish 6'0 194 SR-1L Shelby, N.C.
KR 11 Pharoh Cooper 5'11 201 SO-1L Havelock, N.C.
PR 11 Pharoh Cooper 5'11 201 SO-1L Havelock, N.C.
SSN 58 Ryland Culbertson 6'4 267 SR-1L Laurens, S.C.
LSN 47 Drew Williams 6'2 201 SO-1L Irmo, S.C.
H 18 Patrick Fish 6'0 194 SR-1L Shelby, N.C.
13 Tyler Hull 6'2 207 SR-2L Mount Airy, N.C.

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