After an outing against Arkansas that gave the fans glimpses both the good and bad, South Carolina is looking to turn things around against the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday at noon.
The Gamecocks are coming into this game with a 1-1 record both straight up and against the spread, starting the season with a nice win against Georgia State that highlighted the defense and special teams while losing by two touchdowns to Arkansas where the offense was more successful.
For Georgia, they also enter this matchup 1-1 against the spread, although they are 2-0 straight up.
The Bulldogs completely dominated both Oregon and Stamford in their first two contests, and, as is typical for the best team in the nation, there aren’t any apparent weaknesses yet for this squad.
Georgia has allowed a total of three points through two weeks, and South Carolina looks to be the first to score an offensive touchdown against them this season, which was the case last year as well.
If you don’t need to me explain any further how lopsided this game should be, let Vegas do it.
The Bulldogs are favored by 24.5 points against the Gamecocks, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
That line has been the consensus around mostly every book, and it has not moved much from there either.
ESPN’s FPI gives South Carolina an 8.8% chance at a very unexpected victory versus Georgia.
The total is set at 55.
Why was the line set at this number?
I’m sure many people would look at 24.5 points and question why it isn’t more, to be honest, following a stellar two weeks to open the season, but South Carolina has covered the spread in two of its last three games against Georgia.
Additionally, the Cocks lost by 27 on the road in 2021, and with a considerably better roster to work with in 2022, wouldn’t it make sense to improve, especially in front of a home crowd this time around?
I also make way too big of a deal about this, but South Carolina is a much different team at home as opposed to on the road.
Dating back to the beginning of last season, the Cocks are 5-3 ATS in Columbia and 1-4-1 anywhere else (and for the record, that one road cover was last year’s Georgia game).
So, the combination of playing Georgia and being at home was probably something Vegas had to respect USC at least a little bit for.
As for a reason on the field why the Cocks could keep it closer than any other team has thus far, it is no secret that they have fared much better against the pass than the run, and Georgia had been rather pass heavy this season.
Perhaps Georgia may be working toward South Carolina’s strengths here, which could keep the game low-scoring and within reach.
Yes, the talent disparity between both squads is there, but I believe a spread of 24.5 points is fair.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
To me, 24.5 points is enough that if USC is able to keep Georgia off the scoreboard even a little bit, a cover could be in the cards.
That is also under the assumption that the Gamecocks will be able to put up some points, which I believe they will.
Of course Georgia is much more talented than Georgia State or Arkansas, but if USC managed to score 79 points through two weeks, I would be shocked if they couldn’t muster 10 against Georgia.
Assuming that is the case, I truly believe the Gamecocks could limit the Bulldogs to 34 points or less. Like I said, Georgia’s pass-heavy offense is not bad news for South Carolina, who have held each quarterback through the first two weeks to 162 passing yards or less.
Georgia is not the running back university that they have been in years past either.
If they want to score points, it will have to be through the air, which will be met with some resistance by South Carolina’s strong secondary.
Also, how can we forget that the Gamecocks picked off Stetson Bennett in one of his three pass attempts in 2021?
My keys to covering this week are having a pulse on offense, stopping the pass and not making mistakes that lead to free Georgia points.
What’s the better bet?
I’m coming into this week hot having predicted the first two games correctly ATS.
With that being said, my pick this week is the Gamecocks covering with a loss somewhere in the 17 to 24-point territory.
This is Georgia’s first road test of the year, and it will be in one of the loudest and rowdiest stadiums in the country? Good luck.
I don’t believe Stetson Bennett is some god, and if the Bulldogs beat up on the Cocks it won’t be because of him.