There are two games remaining on the regular season schedule for South Carolina, and a win in either would mean an improbable victory over a top 10 team in the country.
For the first of the two, the Gamecocks are welcoming the Tennessee Volunteers to Williams-Brice Stadium for a prime time matchup this Saturday night.
South Carolina has an even 5-5 record against the spread and a slightly better 6-4 record straight up through 10 games.
In its most recent game at Florida, the Cocks struggled to do just about anything positive (besides special teams) especially when it came to running the ball, passing the ball and run defense. Now they will look to slow down one of the most electric offenses in the country.
As for Tennessee, they enter this one with a record of 9-1 straight up to pair with an equally unbelievable 8-2 record ATS. The Volunteers were able to demolish Missouri last weekend in its most recent outing where they dropped 66 points, star quarterback Hendon Hooker passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns and the team combined to pick up 264 yards on the ground.
Considering how bad Missouri’s defense made the Gamecocks look, this is very concerning.
In what is gearing up to a matchup of David vs. Goliath, Tennessee is favored by 22 points over South Carolina, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
ESPN’s FPI gives USC a 10.7% shot of securing the upset.
The total is set at 66 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
Other than Georgia, this is likely gearing up to be South Carolina’s most lopsided opponent of the year.
What scares me is if this number is at 22 in Columbia, the number would have been closer to 28 points in Knoxville. Wow!
My first takeaway from this line was the fact that after looking semi-decent against Arkansas, the Cocks closed as 25.5-point underdogs at home against Georgia. This time around, South Carolina looked as dreadful as a team can look at Florida, and the line is at 22.
Considering the Bulldogs and Volunteers are very much in the same ballpark when it comes to skill, those two spreads being so close tell me Vegas has a rather holistic view of the Gamecocks and did not let that embarrassing loss phase them in the making of this line.
As for something the Gamecocks have going for them to make bettors somewhat confident in throwing some cash on them? They are a perfect 6-0 in night games with wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M, which were two dubs that looked fantastic at the time but now, not so much after Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt last week and Texas A&M failed to qualify for a bowl game.
The only other pro-South Carolina stat I have is although the team has dropped its last three to Tennessee, the margins of the losses have been by 20, 4 and 25 points.
So, even when the Cocks have been in the bottom of the SEC, the Volunteers have struggled to put this team away (except for last season), covering this year’s spread in two of those three games.
That’s all I have for things going South Carolina’s way, which is probably why the line is so high and so many people are running to the books to take Tennessee.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
Some luck? Maybe a good prayer?
I’m struggling to come up with new ways to illustrate how much of a mismatch this game is!
Tennessee has beaten up on better teams, like LSU by 27, Kentucky (I still think the Cocks would have lost had Levis played) by 38 and Missouri by 24.
So, I really don’t think defeating South Carolina by more than 22 is asking for too much.
As for what will have to happen to beat the spread? I think USC has to do something in garbage time and secure a back door cover.
If the Cocks want to do it the old fashioned way, I would suggest attempting to take Hooker’s passing out of the game, which may be possible with South Carolina’s defensive strength being its pass defense.
Also, Tennessee has given up some points in the past, so if the Gamecock offense wants to wake up, some touchdowns can be scored.
BUT, and this scares me just writing it, those touchdowns will have to come through the air. This game rests on Rattler’s shoulders, and there is no way around it.
Three SEC teams have competed with Tennessee. What did it take? A 453 yard outing from Anthony Richardson, 455 yards from Bryce Young and 257 yards with two touchdowns from Stetson Bennett.
On that note, I only have two keys to covering, and those are neutralize Hooker and have a game, Spence.
What’s the better bet?
Any person with a working brain should take Tennessee here... but I just have a feeling the Cocks are going to shock some people.
I’m not taking them to win or anything, but for some reason, I believe this team operates differently at night when all eyes are on them.
Satterfield is playing for his job right now, the Cocks have been known to bounce back after tough losses this season and they are even playing for some respect when it comes to who picks them in bowl season.
I’ll take Tennessee to win somewhere in the 14 to 21-point range, but the Gamecocks to cover the spread.