After two straight and mainly painful SEC losses, the Gamecocks are looking to get back in the win column this week against Troy.
Despite being 2-2, USC suffered its first loss against the spread last week versus Kentucky, failing to lose by less five points or less.
Troy enters this contest 2-2 ATS and straight up with its most recent game being a 13-point defeat to UL Monroe. A loss hurts enough on the surface, but Troy being favored by 23.5 and coming out that flat makes it astronomically worse.
Both the Gamecocks and the Trojans are looking to get to a game above .500, and although USC’s competition level has been far greater up to this point, it really is anybody’s game here. The spread only further reflects that.
South Carolina is currently favored against Troy by seven points, according to VegasInsider.com. The line has moved two whole points in Troy’s favor after opening at nine points.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Gamecocks a 71.4% chance of victory against the Trojans.
The over/under is set at 43.5 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
To start, being at home helps the Cocks, and it’ll definitely assist in building some confidence as the team hopes to shake off last week’s rocky performance.
What I took away from the Kentucky game was that no matter how ugly it looked at times, there was never truly a time where South Carolina wasn’t in it (until late in the fourth quarter of course). This isn’t some SEC bottom-feeder either but a team that is undefeated overall and in conference games.
Vegas is probably thinking about how aside from Georgia, the most points given up by USC all year is 17.
Considering Troy’s offense — with all due respect — does not look electric by any means, I believe the oddsmakers are predicting the Gamecocks will contain the Trojan offense with it being be up to South Carolina to put some points on the board.
To state the obvious, Troy has not looked terrible and South Carolina has not shown an ability to dominate an opponent yet (Eastern Illinois shouldn’t count). At this point, CAN the Gamecocks really have their way with a respectable team?
That line of respect typically lies around seven points, and I couldn’t agree more with Vegas on this line placement.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
Simply stated, take the defense from last week and add a competent offense that can get more than four first downs in a half.
Many of Troy’s losses have involved a focus on the run by its opponent, and that needs to be a point of emphasis by the coaching staff.
With a running back room as talented as South Carolina’s, I would love to see more than the 18 attempts by the backs from last week.
Additionally, Troy’s offense is almost entirely reliant on the pass. Knowing that would have scared me a week ago, but it is now actually a welcoming sight with South Carolina having what looks to be a much improved secondary compared to earlier in the season.
Much like Will Levis, Troy quarterback Taylor Powell has an interception problem with him throwing a pick in every game but one.
USC’s road to covering here is to create turnovers and actually take advantage of them this time.
What’s the better bet?
I’m actually going to hop back on the Cocks here and take them -7, although I’m calling for a win somewhere between 10 and 21 points.
This is one of the games South Carolina likely circled on the schedule as a possible dub, and I’m expecting the team to come out and play like the superior team.
Troy has yet to face SEC-level competition, and they have already lost by more than seven points twice this year.
USC will take advantage of the confidence boost and ride that high into a road game at Knoxville next week.