Tar Heels at Gamecocks Picks and College Football Odds
by Dave Schwab - 6/5/2013
The North Carolina Tar Heels will get an early jump on a new college football season when they cross state lines to square off against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday, Aug. 29 in this ACC-SEC interstate clash at Williams Brice Stadium. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
The Tar Heels finished the 2012 regular season with a 45-18 victory over Maryland as 25-point favorites at home to notch their eighth win against four losses. However, despite the 8-4 SU record, they were not eligible for postseason play due to sanctions imposed by the NCAA.
The Gamecocks squeezed by Michigan 33-28 as 5.5-point favorites in last season’s Outback Bowl to finish the year 11-2 and ranked No.8 in the AP’s final poll of the season. They now bring a five-game winning streak to close-out the 2012 campaign into this contest.
Tar Heels at Gamecocks Betting Storylines
The Tar Heels would have earned a share of the ACC Coastal Division title last season with a 5-3 record in conference play, but they are definitely stepping way up in class with a matchup like this right out of the gate. They will have Bryn Renner back as their starting quarterback, but there will be a number of new faces scattered throughout the offense with half the starters gone from last year’s squad.
Running back AJ Blue will be counted on fill the void left by Giovani Bernard, who is now playing his football on Sundays in the NFL. Fortunately, Renner will have a couple of key targets back in wide receiver Quinshad Davis and tight end Eric Ebron for a passing attack that finished the 2012 season ranked 26th in the nation in yards per game. Defensively, only seven starters return from a unit that allowed an average of 25.7 points a game, so there will be some question marks on that side of the ball as well.
South Carolina lost both Marcus Lattimore and his backup Kenny Miles from the running game, but the big story in Columbia this season could be quarterback Conner Shaw. He threw for only 1,956 yards last season, but he completed 67.5 percent of his attempts and 17 of his 154 completions went for touchdowns. He also became a dual-threat with his legs after rushing for 435 yards and three scores.
More important for this game could be a Gamecocks defense that is returning just five starters from last season. Despite the mass exodus of talent from a unit that was ranked 13th in the country in points allowed (18.2), all-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who has been opened at +1100 to win this season Heisman Trophy, will be back in the starting lineup. His presence alone is enough to disrupt any team’s game plan, and it should be interesting to see just how much pressure he can put on Shaw in this contest.
Tar Heels at Gamecocks Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has opened South Carolina as an 11-point home favorite on its Week 1 lines with the total line still listed as “off” for this ACC/SEC matchup.
The Tar Heels went 6-6 against the spread last season with a 5-2 ATS record at home but a 1-4 record ATS on the road. The total went “over” in seven of their 11 games overall but it stayed “under” in three of five road games. They have been opened as +400 fourth-favorites to win the ACC this season and +8000 to win a BCS title.
The Gamecocks failed to cover in four of their last six games last season to end the year at 8-5 ATS. They did go 5-2 ATS at home with the total going over in four of six home games with a posted line. South Carolina is a +165 second favorite behind Georgia to win the SEC East Division this season and is listed at +600 to win the conference. Its odds to win a national title are currently listed at +3000.
Tar Heels at Gamecocks Picks and Betting Predictions
North Carolina will be a factor in the ACC this season, but it is in way over its head against one of the better teams from the much more powerful SEC. Matchups such as this are great for trying to raise the profile of the ACC as still being one of the major conferences in college football, but they are not great for the ACC teams that have to play them. Stick with the Gamecocks all the way and lay the 11 points as they roll to a big opening-day win at home.
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