College Football Predictions: South Carolina at Georgia Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 9/5/2013
It sounds kind of silly to say that there is a must-win game in Week 2 of the season, but for Georgia this is a must-win game if they want to live up to their preseason National Championship potential. There is no real shame in losing a very close game — and an instant classic — at a very good Clemson squad. Because it happened early, it could be overcome with a great season ahead. There is absolutely no room for error left, though, and a home conference loss would almost certainly be fatal. The crucial importance of this game could be the biggest issue for the Bulldogs. After what was surely an emotionally-exhausting week last week, the team has to get fired up right away for another very tough game against a strong opponent. If this team isn’t among the most mentally tough in the country then they could be exposed here.
South Carolina got the win they needed last week against their rivals from North Carolina, but they can’t rest on their laurels — it wasn’t exactly a dominant performance. They got out to a fast 17-0 start but then visibly let up and only won 27-10. The headline from the game was the relative invisibility of Jadeveon Clowney. The all-world defensive end claims to have been fighting a stomach virus, but whatever the cause was there is no doubt that he was physically far from his best. He was still a disruptive force, but not nearly up to his normal standards — he didn’t have a sack and took several plays off. His role is far more important against Georgia than it was against North Carolina, so how you handicap this game will depend significantly on how you expect Clowney to bounce back from his bad day. Aaron Murray was sacked four times by Clemson in the Georgia loss last week, so the offensive line is vulnerable if Clowney has a good day.
South Carolina at Georgia Betting Storylines
You can’t look at this game without looking back at what happened last year. It was another highly-anticipated matchup, and Georgia again had National Championship expectations, but things went very poorly for them. Clowney and the South Carolina defense were completely dominant, the Bulldogs were badly rattled on offense, and Steve Spurrier and his staff had a massive edge in game-planning. Georgia’s dynamic running game, led by Todd Gurley, managed just 115 yards on the ground. That was better than the 109 yards passing. It was an ugly game. Was it a fluke? Or does South Carolina have the recipe for beating Georgia?
Gurley had a much better week last week against Clemson. He only had 12 touches, but he converted them into 154 yards and two touchdowns. And that was dealing with a thigh injury suffered in the first quarter. Reports are that Gurley will be fine physically for this contest. That’s not the only good news for Georgia on the personnel front. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is back from a one-game suspension, and fellow safety Corey Moore should be back from his knee injury. That will provide some much-needed depth in a secondary that struggled to contain Tajh Boyd last week. The news isn’t as good for junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell. He tore his ACL celebrating a TD — one he didn’t even score — and will miss the year. He was Georgia’s leading receiver against South Carolina last year.
South Carolina at Georgia Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Georgia favored by 3.5 points. Despite relatively balanced action the number has dropped to the key number of three points — a sign that sharp money has been on South Carolina. The total has been stable at 56 points in early action.
This is the first time since 1998 that Georgia has faced Top-10 opponents in consecutive weeks. The teams have met eight times when both were ranked, with South Carolina holding a 5-3 edge. Georgia’s defense does not start well — they have gone over the total in each of their last five September games. South Carolina has covered their last five September games and is 5-0-1 ATS in their last six against Georgia. Eleven of the last 13 meetings have gone “under” the total.
College Football Predictions: South Carolina at Georgia Picks
There are things to like and question on both sides. Aaron Murray gives the Bulldogs the clear edge at QB. South Carolina has a big edge in the defensive front seven — especially if Clowney is back to full steam. The Gamecocks have the confidence of an opening win and recent success against Georgia, but they have to deal with playing on the road in a far from hospitable setting. The biggest difference, though, is with the coaching staff. While Steve Spurrier seemed to be enjoying an active retirement in recent years, he has lately found his mojo again and is showing a lot of the spark that he used to have. On the other side, I just don’t trust Mark Richt. He is far from his best, is really struggling on the defensive side of the ball, and doesn’t instill nearly enough mental toughness to make me confident in him and his team here. South Carolina is the pick, and I’ll take the time to find the security blanket of the 3.5 points.
Wow! Doc’s Sports college football picks are free! New clients can get $60 in expert football picks from any handicapper on Doc’s Sports Advisory Board. There is no obligation for this offer, and no salesman, ever! Click here to get your picks – it takes less than 2 minutes to sign up!
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham