Despite snatching college football headlines for a week and staying competitive with Florida through three quarters, the Gamecocks are a meager 4-point favorite on the road against Tennessee.
South Carolina opened as 4.5-point favorites but the line has since shifted half a point in favor of the Volunteers.
The over/under is set at 47.5.
Why was the line set at this number?
At first glance, gamblers will probably look at the line and think of it as easy money because of the difference in talent between the two teams, but it isn’t quite that simple.
A very weird stat from recent history is that no matter the talent of either team, the game has ended with a field goal or less separating the teams six out of the last seven years.
The one game that didn’t finish that way was two years ago. The Cocks were much better on paper (they ended the season with an Outback Bowl victory) and they needed a goal line stand in order to beat them.
If there’s a takeaway from this, it’s that no matter how one-sided this game may look, it will most likely end up closer than it should, and being away doesn’t help that case either.
That point was most likely prominent inside the heads of oddsmakers, but another reason is Tennessee’s home versus road success.
Casting that Georgia State disaster aside, the Vols either beat or had a very close game against all that teams they were predicted to compete with, beating Mississippi State and Chattanooga and losing in OT to a BYU team that always seems to shine when the lights are on them.
The road is a different story with them having been crushed by Florida and Alabama.
So, with Tennessee at home and the Gamecocks having a knack for keeping inferior teams around longer than they should, that line makes complete sense.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
They just have to take care of business.
If the squad from the last three weeks shows up, this should be an easy win and cover considering that Tennessee is probably the least talented of all those teams with Kentucky being close.
Also, Tennessee doesn’t score very much meaning all that should be required at most is 24 to 27 points, assuming the defense carries the load once again.
USC does match up well against Tennessee too with them usually leaning on a mediocre running game to cover up suspect quarterback play.
The Gamecocks should create a game plan similar to the one against Georgia with them concentrating on the run because they know Tennessee’s quarterback probably won’t be able to beat them.
What’s the better bet?
As I said earlier, the line looks like a trap, but I’m willing to take the chance.
This is a bad Tennessee team and a Gamecock team with their best defense in years.
They also know in their hearts they had a shot to beat Florida and they won’t let this team get in their way.
The players on that squad probably can’t wait to get back out there as well.
Another important note: there is currently rain in the forecast and if this turns into a running match, I’ll take the Cocks.
USC will cover and win somewhere in the 4 to 14 point range making both fans and the degenerate gamblers happy.
Wow, it feels good to be predicting a win again.