College football is BACK and so is a favorite pastime of many: college football sports betting.
I’m aware this isn’t exactly a game where people are rushing to the nearest sports book to place a bet, but it’s still a game nonetheless.
Eastern Illinois is coming off a close loss to Indiana State while the Gamecocks are set to kick off its season this Saturday night.
Although many have the Gamecocks among the bottom of the SEC standings, the winner of this game isn’t creating much of an argument.
The Cocks are hefty 42-point favorites in this contest, according to The Action Network, with some books having the spread as low as 40.5 points in favor of South Carolina.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Gamecocks a 98.7% chance to win, which is pretty on par with the spread.
The over/under is set at 55.5 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
Well, Eastern Illinois is coming off a one win 2019 season and a one win 2020 spring season. They are a dreadful team even in the FCS. It’s bad enough to struggle in the FBS, but this is a different animal.
To paint a picture of what we’re dealing with here, Eastern Illinois lost to Chattanooga in 2019 by the score of 24-10. A year before that game, the Gamecocks beat that same Chattanooga team 49-9.
Yes, that was also a South Carolina squad that made a bowl game, but I’m just trying to add perspective.
The Cocks have had their way with teams a step below them in the past as well.
In 2018, the South Carolina opened the season with a 49-15 thrashing of Coastal Carolina. In 2019, they demolished Charleston Southern 72-10 with Ryan Hilinski at quarterback, a man who no longer starts for a division one program.
On the flip side, the Gamecocks have also had their blunders against teams much worse than them.
It took a game-winning field goal to steal the victory against Louisiana Tech in 2017, the Gamecocks only beat Akron 28-3 in 2018 and, well, the Citadel, but that was a while back.
Anyway, no matter how bad South Carolina may be this year, this squad has the potential to blow Eastern Illinois out, and that’s where the spread is coming from.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
Basically, they just need to play how they are expected to.
Zeb Noland may be a polarizing pick to start at quarterback, but even he has dominated against teams better than this.
I think the offense has the weapons to put up 50 points (I can’t believe I’m saying that but it’s true), but can the defense hold the Panthers to within 10 if that happens?
What’s the better bet?
I said the Gamecocks *can* drop 50, not they *will* drop 50.
I don’t know how you can go anywhere other than taking Eastern Illinois to cover here.
Out of all the blowouts I named, the only one that covered 40 points was the Charleston Southern one, and the Gamecocks already had a game under their belt in addition to, frankly, having a better roster.
The tools are there to cover the spread; I just don’t think they will.
Give me a Gamecock victory somewhere between 28 and 35 points.