The lines are trending toward a close, pick ‘em game!
With morale at a season-high following last week’s thrashing of Florida, the Gamecocks are getting set to travel to the other Columbia this weekend for a matchup against Missouri.
South Carolina enters this contest with records of 5-4 straight up and 4-4-1 against the spread, and, as we all know, the Gamecocks won and covered last week versus the Gators. They even covered Florida’s spread of 20.5 points…
Missouri — like South Carolina — is coming into this game desperate for a win with both teams having dreams of achieving bowl eligibility.
The Tigers have one fewer victory than the Gamecocks as they sit at 4-5 overall, but they have a dreadful record of 1-8 ATS. That lone victory actually took place last week at Georgia as Missouri went on to cover a 40-point spread, but they have yet to cover as betting favorites.
Oddsmakers currently have this game pinned as a pick ‘em or very close to it, according to VegasInsider.com. The line opened with the Tigers as three-point favorites, but things have since been trending in the Gamecocks’ direction.
ESPN’s FPI gives South Carolina a 48.6% chance of victory at Missouri, which is just about as tight as the spread.
The over/under is set at 55 points.
Why was the line set at this number?
I wholeheartedly agree with the line. If I was an oddsmaker, I would probably have it close to a pick ‘em myself.
It’s insane how much of a difference one week can make. If the Cocks lost to Florida, I believe Missouri would have been hovering around 10-point favorites.
It just changed everything.
As for why these teams are predicted to play such a close game, it is because USC and Missouri have had almost identical seasons thus far. Both squads dropped a close one to Kentucky and won tighter than expected games against Vanderbilt on top of getting blown out by Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia.
The only thing separating them thus far was last week’s Gamecock victory over Florida because Missouri is still lacking that “statement” win.
Additionally, the eye test and records between these two teams tell me that South Carolina is *slightly* better, and the line seems to agree. If it’s a pick ‘em here, that implies the Cocks would be favorites on a neutral field.
If Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak is unable to suit up on Saturday, I’d expect the line to shift further toward South Carolina as well.
History could have been a factor in the decision as well with the all-time series being close at six wins for the Tigers and five wins for the Cocks.
What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?
Usually I go on some rant about offense when this section rolls around, but I actually don’t think that will be an issue this week!
The Tigers are allowing an average of 36.8 points per game!
To sweeten that stat even more, Missouri struggles with its run defense, allowing at least 168 rushing yards in every game this year on top of allowing 271 rushing yards per game.
For a Gamecock team that loves to run the ball, I’m sure they will be fine with that.
Assuming the offense hovers around that average point total of 36.8, that means how this game goes likely falls on the shoulders of the defense.
Missouri has shown an ability to pass the ball well, but like I mentioned earlier, if Bazelak is out, they may lose that strength of theirs and rely more on the run.
Tyler Badie is a name flying under the radar this year, but the man is leading the SEC in rushing yards. Although USC looked very much improved in that aspect last week, it could still be a problem to look out for.
So, my keys to cover this week are to contain the run, keep the penalties to a minimum and simply be average offensively.
Whats’s the better bet?
I let my emotions get in the way of pretty clear trends last week, and I won’t let that happen again.
Missouri is embarrassingly bad against the spread and hasn’t covered in a game at home yet. That should be enough to take the Cocks, but the Tigers struggle that much against the run and may even be without their starting quarterback? Say no more.
I’ll be taking South Carolina to win and cover the spread (which is basically the same thing this week) somewhere in the the 3 to 14-point range.
No win is ever easy for the Gamecocks, and I don’t expect this one to be different either.