Hopefully everyone enjoyed a week free from Gamecock-related stress, but now we are back to the action.
Following South Carolina’s first ranked victory since beating Georgia in 2019, the Gamecocks look to continue that success this Saturday night as the Texas A&M Aggies come to town.
USC enters this one with a record of 3-3 against the spread and 4-2 straight up with its most recent victory, obviously, being against Kentucky where the defense had a night, forcing two turnovers and almost completely eliminating the pass. Another highlight was Marshawn Lloyd continuing his stretch of impressive games, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Also coming off a bye week, Texas A&M is 2-3-1 against the spread with a record of 3-3 straight up. Its last game was (how can anyone forget) the almost-upset of Alabama that was decided in the final seconds with an incomplete Haynes King pass in the end zone. Although Bryce Young was inactive, it was an impressive showing for the Aggies, going blow-for-blow with one of college football’s juggernauts.
To sum up this contest, it’s basically a battle of a South Carolina team having its first seemingly successful season in a while and Texas A&M having its first unsuccessful season in a while.
Despite that, Texas A&M is still favored on the road over South Carolina by three points, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Cocks a 46.3% chance of a victory over the Aggies.
The total is set at 44.5 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
In terms of trajectory of the two programs, I think the line is perfectly placed. I would have had it around three points as well.
On the other hand, in terms of the dominance this program has had over the Gamecocks, I would respond by saying ONLY three points?
For starters, South Carolina has NEVER beaten Texas A&M since they started playing annually in 2014. The game has also been decided by less than seven points only one time. Additionally, the Aggies have won by an average of 33 points over the last three seasons!
So, Gamecock bettors are not off to a good start in that department.
While that may be true, the two teams are pretty close in terms of public perception.
Both squads have had their fair share of bad losses and even bad wins.
The Aggies dropped a tough one in their second matchup of the season to Appalachian State and then another on the road to Mississippi State by 18. They also had what we thought was an impressive victory early on against Miami by eight points, but now, knowing the team Miami actually is, I am shocked that they could only win by that amount.
South Carolina was talked about on every news outlet in its third game of the year, not for anything positive, but because of getting historically blown out by the Georgia Bulldogs. And although the Gamecocks were able to finish the job, trailing Georgia State in the third quarter in the opener was not a good look.
In all, this is a game between two middling teams with no clear winner, but Texas A&M was thrown three points because of history and its brand, at least in my opinion.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
To shut down the Aggies offensively, the Cocks have to go all in on stopping the run because King does not scare me.
He has thrown for over 200 yards twice this season, and it took him 46 attempts to do so in one of the games (Alabama).
Devon Achane can beat the Cocks, but I do not believe King can.
In reality, the defense may have to be Texas A&M’s backbone on Saturday because the Aggies have scored more than 24 points only once this year, and it was against Sam Houston!
While that unit is pretty good, it can be beaten.
Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs ran for 154 yards against it, Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson ran for 105 yards, Appalachian State running back Camerun Peoples ran for 112 yards and Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers threw for 329 yards against it.
Because the Texas A&M defense does tend to do better against the pass, it may be Marshawn Lloyd time again.
And, as I said before, because the Aggie offense leaves much to be desired, please don’t give them free points or short fields to work with to make it easier to score.
On that note, my keys to covering are stop the run, have a competent run-leaning offense and don’t turn the ball over.
Haynes King has thrown a pick in every game he’s started with the exception of one (App State), so forcing a few turnovers wouldn’t hurt either.
What’s the better bet?
In terms of ranked wins, I was always in wait until I see it mode, and I finally saw it two weeks ago.
While I believe South Carolina should win, I’m not going to pick them against Texas A&M until I finally see a W.
It’s as simple as that in my mind.
Give me the Aggies to win and cover somewhere between 7 and 14 points.