COLUMBIA - There are bye weeks, when a team stays at home for a weekend and watches everyone else play football. Then there are bye weeks on paper.

These are the games when backups and third-stringers can play all four quarters, and it still wouldn't change the game's outcome. South Carolina will get both - a real bye week followed by an effective bye week - during two consecutive weeks in October.

By the time the Gamecocks host Southern Conference opponent Furman on Oct. 18, everyone will be thinking about the next week. That's when South Carolina travels to Auburn for potentially one of the defining games of the SEC - and college football - season.

But, begrudgingly, South Carolina must play Furman first. At the very least, it'll be another week for any injured Gamecocks to gain some rest. Still, there will be a football game Oct. 18. Fans will pay to watch, and such.

Here is what to expect from Furman.

Opponent bio

Team: Furman

Coach: Bruce Fowler (17-19, fourth season)

Returning starters: N/A

2013 record: 8-6, 6-2 Southern Conference; third place Southern

Scoring offense: 22.7 points per game

Scoring defense: 24.2 points against per game

Series: South Carolina leads 27-20-1

Last meeting: South Carolina beat Furman 38-19 in 2010. Marcus Lattimore led the way with 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Alshon Jeffery added five catches for 97 yards.

Three things to know about Furman

1. No stranger to major opponents: Furman is no stranger to major opponents under Fowler. The Paladins played at Clemson in 2012 and at LSU in 2013. They lost those games by a combined score of 99-23. Furman did beat Georgia Southern last season, and Georgia Southern beat Florida, so by extension . maybe?

2. What is a Paladin?: A Paladin is an old, old wooden ship used around Civil War time. Wait, that's Anchorman. Actually, the Paladins were the chief warriors in Charlemagne's court. At least to those unfamiliar with World of Warcraft.

3. Player to watch: If you're going to watch/attend this game, and you're wanting to know one player on the opposition to watch, it's senior tailback Hank McCloud. As a junior, McCloud had 1,092 yards and five touchdowns. Perhaps he can make a play or two against South Carolina's defense.

Gamecocks schedule glimpse

Week before: bye

Next week: at Auburn

On the horizon: Tennessee