COLUMBIA — Shane Beamer has spoken of his wish to see a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium again, to experience the pageantry and excitement he felt when he was a South Carolina assistant coach from 2007-10.
The Gamecocks’ new head coach will get his wish in his first game.
USC announced its first three football kickoff times on May 27, and Beamer’s Gamecocks will take the field for a night game on Sept. 4. USC will kick off against Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m., giving fans who stayed away last year due to COVID restrictions the opportunity to fill the stadium as the lights blaze and the flame towers guarding the Gamecocks’ iconic “2001” entrance roar.
The game will be televised by ESPN Plus and SEC Network Plus.
USC will be on the road the next two weeks. The Gamecocks kick off at noon at East Carolina on Sept. 11 in a national ESPN2 broadcast, then start conference play at Georgia on Sept. 18.
The annual tilt with the Bulldogs, expected to be one of the country’s preseason Top-5 teams, will start at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
It’s a one-and-done game with EIU, and the first meeting between the two schools. Known for producing NFL quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo, plus New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, the Panthers were 1-5 this season over an abbreviated spring schedule.
The game at ECU has long been on future schedules but kept getting pushed back, although the Gamecocks and Pirates played four times from 2011-16, three in Columbia and once in Charlotte. It will be the first trip to ECU since 1997.
The Pirates are coached by Mike Houston, former head coach at The Citadel.
USC returns to Athens for the first time since the best win of former head coach Will Muschamp’s tenure, an upset of the No. 3 Bulldogs in double overtime in 2019.