Letting that embarrassment at the hands of LSU percolate for an extra week, the South Carolina Gamecocks are welcoming the Texas A&M Aggies to Columbia for yet another primetime matchup this Saturday night on ESPN.
Although the Gamecocks didn’t come close to covering the spread two weeks ago, they are still a solid 4-1 against the number on the year.
For this game, USC is coming off of their seemingly well-timed bye week while the Aggies are amidst a three-game winning streak, with their most recent victory being against Arkansas last weekend in what was a much more one-sided contest than the score shows.
Despite Texas A&M’s upward trajectory and South Carolina’s nosedive in fan confidence, the Gamecocks are still only 7.5-point underdogs against the Aggies, according to VegasInsider.com.
The line hasn’t moved much since opening either, actually taking a half-point swing in favor of the Cocks from eight points.
ESPN’s FPI has South Carolina’s chance of victory at 44.6%, which seems to disagree with the spread and the majority of college football fans. As a matter of fact, USC had a 33.8% chance to beat Auburn, so this is a little surprising to say the least.
The over/under is set at 55.5 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
My best guess is because South Carolina has played teams close or won at home thus far, losing by four to Tennessee and beating Auburn by eight.
The thing is, neither of those teams are on Texas A&M’s level.
Also, it’s a pretty well-known fact that the Gamecocks have yet to beat the Aggies... ever.
Taking last year’s beatdown out of the picture, the two contests before that were actually close games with the Cocks losing by a combined 10 points.
The offense had trouble scoring points of any kind last year too, so the game should be much closer this time around.
Will it be within seven points? We’ll have to find out.
South Carolina also had extra time to prepare because of their bye week. Hopefully, it will look like they used that time wisely.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
With the exception of Arkansas last week, Texas A&M has been very good against the run, which is what a run-heavy team doesn’t want to hear.
On that note, this needs to be a Collin Hill game. For all those doubters out there calling for him to get benched, this is the game where he needs to shine.
If he doesn’t play well in this one - and I’m saying he needs at least 250 yards, two touchdowns and no picks - the Cocks likely get crushed.
Additionally, Kellen Mond loves to use his legs, whether it being scrambling outside the pocket or rushing for a few yards on a broken play.
Defensively, USC has to contain him if they want to keep it close.
A pick would be nice too, but he only has two so far this season, so that may be asking for too much.
What’s the better bet?
The best bet would be Texas A&M moneyline because they won’t be losing this one.
South Carolina could make this a close game, but it’s way more likely that if that do, they won’t finish the job, once again choking in crunch time.
This team’s first win against the Aggies won’t happen this year.
I’m predicting a loss anywhere between 3 and 13 points, but if there was a gun to my head and I had to make a pick, I’d take South Carolina plus the points.