Last week’s victory over East Carolina wasn’t the prettiest display of football Gamecock fans have ever seen, but nevertheless, the season continues this Saturday night as South Carolina travels to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.
USC enters this game with a record of 1-0-1 against the spread (the line closed at -3 against ECU, so that was a rough push) and 2-0 straight up while the Bulldogs are undefeated versus the number and straight up.
The vibes are great in Columbia after racking up two straight victories, and the team has the 2019 upset in mind, but it’s going to take more than that to compete with what is expected to be one of the big powerhouses in college football.
The Bulldogs are coming into this game hot even if they will possibly be without starting quarterback JT Daniels. Georgia is also likely going for blood as this is the first time these two teams will be meeting in Athens since the upset.
Georgia is currently tabbed as a 32-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com. The line hasn’t moved much from that number either, but it may after the statuses of JT Daniels decision and Luke Doty are announced. For reference, the Bulldogs were 20.5-point favorites two years ago, so a lot of respect for the Cocks has apparently been lost over that time.
ESPN’s FPI gives South Carolina a 5.1% chance of victory, which sounds about right.
The over/under is set at 48.
Why was the line set at this number?
I mentioned a few of my points already, but a lot seems to be trending in Georgia’s direction for this game.
First of all, the Bulldogs gave the Gamecocks a 29-point beatdown last season in Columbia, and we’re still not completely sure how that South Carolina team compares skill wise to this one yet.
Additionally, that game was on the road for Georgia. This one is home, and they will be trying to run USC into the ground because, like I said, this is their first home game against the Cocks since 2019.
Georgia really had its way with UAB as well, and that is a team that is viewed in the same ballpark as the Gamecocks.
The South Carolina defense looked impressive against ECU, but if the offense struggled against a team like that, putting up points must have been on the minds of the oddsmakers because if you can’t score, it’s obviously harder to close the gap on a big lead.
Through two weeks, Georgia looks like a team in a different league than USC, and that’s probably the main reason why the spread is so massive.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
Keep. The. Game. Close.
Some teams struggle to even put up 32 points, so if the South Carolina defense does its job, that may be enough to cover even if the offense doesn’t have its best day.
If you take out ECU’s trick play to start the game last week, the Gamecocks would have only allowed one touchdown. That’s a defense that I believe can compete with Georgia.
What scares me is if Clemson could only put up three points and UAB could only put up seven, how can the Gamecocks top that?
To cover, defense is key. To WIN, a defensive touchdown or two is required as it was two years ago.
Also, I don’t care who, but the run game needs to be established. Shave some time off the clock. Less time for Georgia means less time for them to score.
I feel like USC has the potential to cause at least a little havoc on the ground if UAB was able to rush for 127 yards as a team.
All I know is Georgia’s pass defense is like a no-fly zone because neither Clemson nor UAB witnessed too much success with that game plan.
So, if South Carolina forces some turnovers, establishes the run game and limits the Bulldog offense to under 40 points, covering the spread could be in this team’s future.
What’s the better bet?
I’ve been following the Gamecocks long enough to know the best bet on the Gamecocks is no bet, but I have a hard time believing Georgia can beat South Carolina by 32. The last time that happened was in 2015.
A Shane Beamer squad will never quit, so I can even see a backdoor cover happening where Georgia dominates and USC steals a few touchdowns in garbage time.
This Gamecock team has been feeling good for two weeks, but that good morale will sadly come to an end on Saturday night barring a miracle.