College football is entering Week 9 and if you didn’t know by now, there’s only one place to get your betting picks and tips — the SEC Wizard!
Vanderbilt-South Carolina isn’t the sexiest matchup in the SEC this week. But both teams would like a win as they jostle for position in the SEC East standings.
College football betting picks, Vanderbilt-South Carolina
South Carolina remains an SEC East contender of sorts with just 2 losses, as the Gamecocks have yet to play Georgia. But the Gamecocks must take care of Vandy before thinking about that. Meanwhile, the Commodores are hoping a bye week helped the team recapture its early-season grit.
How Vanderbilt can win: Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher, cobbled together 2,789 yards of total offense the last two seasons. This year? 530. On just 3.7 yards per carry. The offensive line must help him get going, or it’s going to be yet another long day against a good South Carolina defense, no matter how good Kyle Shurmur is.
Vanderbilt’s defense also needs to create some turnovers and take advantage of a beatable Gamecocks offensive line. Vanderbilt needs this game in the teens or low 20s in order to win.
How South Carolina can win: Dominate Vandy’s poor offense and make this a replica of the Week 7 win at Tennessee. Jake Bentley must avoid reckless throws and the Gamecocks should strive for balance on offense.
Here are a few additional nuggets:
- South Carolina can go over the preseason Vegas and MyBookie win total of 5.5 by beating Vanderbilt. Considering it’s not even November, that’s impressive. Shoutout to Brian Edwards, friend to SEC Country and an excellent handicapper, who spent all offseason telling us South Carolina would finish over that posted total.
- Will Muschamp is 4-1 against Vanderbilt as a head coach. The lone loss, 34-17 in 2013, helped then-Vanderbilt coach James Franklin secure the Penn State job.
After beating then-ranked Kansas State in Nashville to start the season 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread, Vanderbilt’s season fell apart. The Commodores are 0-4 SU and ATS since, failing to cover by an average of 19.5 points per game. Vandy has been an underdog of more than 8 points in 3 of those 4 spots.
Only one other SEC team has been an underdog on average through Week 8 (South Carolina).
Yuck. There are no redeeming qualities here. According to F+/-, which I consider to be the best analytical ranking of college football teams, Vanderbilt is the worst in the SEC this season through Week 8. Worse than Tennessee (No. 89), Arkansas (No. 91) and Missouri (No. 92).
- RB Bailey McElwain (foot) is questionable against South Carolina. McElwain does not have a carry all season.
- Vanderbilt is incredibly healthy entering this Week 9 game, a rare positive right now for the ‘Dores.
Vanderbilt got a bye to regroup after 4 consecutive losses by a combined 126 points. So, both teams enter the game well-rested with plenty of time to prepare. Vandy probably needed the bye more than South Carolina, like a boxer who gets saved by the bell at the end of the round while taking a flurry of punches. But Muschamp’s game planning benefits more from the extra time than Mason’s.
Western Kentucky is next for the Commodores.
Mason got Vanderbilt back to a bowl game in 2016, his third season in Nashville. The 3-0 start this fall made it seem like the Commodores would improve for a third consecutive year. Now Mason must stop the backslide, and depending on how long it takes him to do it, it’s possible he could lose himself to the brink of getting fired at the end of this year.
Look at that TD/INT ratio. I don’t care that he’s completing just 55 percent of his passes — that’s a high degree of difficulty behind this offensive line, and when his team often is down many scores. He’s been something of a magician this season. It’s a shame he doesn’t have a better offense around him.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
At 28 points, N.C. State holds the distinction as the most successful offense against South Carolina this year, and that came in an upset win for the Gamecocks. The 15-9 win at Tennessee in Week 7 best illustrates how the season has gone, and how South Carolina has won betters a lot of games.
Consider the team’s 3 defensive TDs against Arkansas, and this offense has scored 13, 17, 17, 27 and 15 points in its last 5 games — and managed to go 3-2 during that stretch. Unders hit in 4 of those 5 games.
Despite playing a difficult schedule with an injury-ravaged and sometimes ineffective offense, the defense keeps getting better. Right now it ranks as the fifth-best in the SEC, which means it’s pretty good.
- OL Malik Young (ankle), Zack Bailey (ankle) and Cory Helms (ankle) all missed the Week 7 game against Tennessee. After the bye week, all three are probable. That’s good news for South Carolina’s offense, as the line hasn’t been great this year and can’t afford to play backups.
- RB Rico Dowdle (leg) underwent surgery on a fractured bone after the Tennessee game and may be out for the year. He joins WR Deebo Samuel, LB Bryson Allen-Williams, TE K.C. Crosby and WR Jerad Washington, who all suffered season-ending injuries.
- WRs Terry Googer (concussion) and Chad Terrell (ankle) are out vs. Vanderbilt.
- DB Tavyn Jackson (hamstring) is probable.
South Carolina had 2 weeks to prepare for Vanderbilt after a satisfying road win against Tennessee. This is a bit of a look-ahead spot for the Gamecocks, which must travel to Athens next weekend to play Georgia.
|Will Muschamp||2nd||11-9||6-7||SEC co-Coach of the Year in 2012|
No one has ever doubted his defensive prowess. Muschamp has put together a very good defense despite of some poor personnel and depth in spots. Give him another two recruiting classes and South Carolina can be an upper-echelon SEC team again.
South Carolina holds the coaching advantage in this game.
He’s thrown 5 TDs against 0 INTs in South Carolina’s last 3 games. An emotional player who sometimes throws from impossible angles under duress, it’s good to see Bentley starting to take care of the ball.
Despite how well Vandy’s Shurmur has played this season, I give South Carolina the quarterback edge in this matchup as well.
THE WIZARD’S PREDICTION
Score: South Carolina 27, Vanderbilt 20
I think the line and total are good and have no interest in this game from a betting perspective.