I didn’t envision writing these words after seeing what went down last Saturday afternoon, but the Gamecocks are favored by 15 points as they welcome to town an equally dysfunctional team in Vanderbilt coming off their bye week and their best win of the season against Missouri.
South Carolina opened as 16-point favorites, but the line has since dipped a point to where it stands currently at 15 points.
The over/under is set at 51.
Why was the line set at this number?
Besides being a below average team, Vanderbilt also matches up very well with South Carolina.
Their defense is terrible and they can’t throw the football.
If this Gamecock offense is going to have any life, it will be on full display this week as the Commodores have given up 30 or more points in five out of the seven games they have played this season, including a whopping 34 points in an embarrassing loss to UNLV.
In terms of quarterback play, Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal has only passed for more than 200 yards twice this whole season, although to be fair the starting job isn’t completely his.
After seeing last week that in order to beat this Carolina defense, the opponent has to pass and pass long, the Gamecocks should feel confident knowing they are going to be facing suspect quarterback play.
Also, this is a team the Gamecocks know they can beat, as they have done just that the last 10 times they have met.
Although this may look like domination on paper, setting the line at 15 in favor of a struggling Gamecock team still confuses me.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
They will have to put on the field what I outlined, which is taking advantage of a quarterback that can’t throw and a defense that can’t stop a nosebleed (although it did manage to do its job against Missouri).
This South Carolina front seven has proven they can stop the run so if they succeed in that, it may be tough for Vanderbilt to put up points.
All they have to do to win is play a clean game and not give the Commodores any free scores.
To cover, they will have to do that in addition to forcing some turnovers and kickstarting that offense.
Because faith in the offense is rather low, the defensive play will matter more in a quest to beat the spread.
What’s the better bet?
The Cocks are impossible to predict, and I can back that up with my 3-5 record in my predictions against the spread.
One week you think “wow, we may have a top-10 defense!” and the next it is “we gave up 41 to Tennessee!”.
With Vanderbilt having an extra week to prepare for this game, I can’t see them taking a step back after beating Missouri.
On that note, it’s going to be a close game.
My head and heart are actually on the same page this week in that I believe USC will win but not beat the spread. I am thinking a win somewhere in the 7 to 14 point range.
At this point, I’d take that with a grain of salt as week after week, fans are left guessing what Gamecock team will take the field.