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SEC Football Pick
South Carolina visits LSU on Saturday night in a prime time game that can be seen live on ESPN. The game is easily the "game of the week" in terms of interest and importance. LSU, looking to bounce back after last weeks loss at Florida, is a -3 point home favorite with a total of just 40.5 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook. The early betting action at sportsbook.ag shows that 77% of the early wagers on this game are coming in on the South Carolina side.
Compared to a week ago, these teams have flip-flopped in the rankings, and now this game is looking much different. Is LSU as good as everyone thought? They don't have a good win yet on the year unless you consider a 12-10 win at 1-4 Auburn a good win. Their offense has had trouble against anyone with a viable defense. South Carolina is cruising and is now ranked No. 3 in the polls. They had trouble with Vanderbilt in their first game, but since then they have big wins over Missouri and most recently, the Georgia demolishing. Their next two games at LSU and Florida could decide a lot for bowl games this year.
Starting with the Gamecocks, they have a powerful all-around game that gets the job done on both sides of the ball. They are giving up just over 10 points per game which is good for fourth in the country. Their defense shined last weekend against Georgia when they allowed a mere seven points, as QB Aaron Murray finished a miserable 11-for-31. South Carolina isn't too shabby on offense either, scoring over 35 points per game. Running back Marcus Lattimore is the main workhorse out of the backfield who has 549 yards and nine TDs this season. Connor Shaw had to attempt just 10 passes in last week's win. His job is to take care of the ball which he has done, completing 75 percent of his passes. Shaw also has carried the ball 64 times for 281 yards.
The LSU defense will have to improve defensively after allowing 176 yards to Florida on the ground last week. Lattimore is not an easy back to stop, though. Their offense will have to put in a better performance than what they have been able to do in their first two SEC games.
Zach Mettenberger has 1,174 yards and six TDs this year, but in two SEC games he hasn't thrown for over 169 yards or thrown a touchdown. That's why LSU has a combined 18 points in those games. If Aaron Murray struggled against the Gamecocks, it's most likely that Mettenberger will as well. The Tigers will need an improvement from their running game that totaled just 42 yards on 25 carries against Florida. With running back Alfred Blue still out, Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware are all used pretty equally in the running game. Hilliard has been the best statistically with 382 yards and six TDs, but he only had five carries for 16 yards against the Gators.
South Carolina's run defense has been solid holding opponents to under 3.5 yards per carry. LSU has won the last four games in this meeting, but the last game was played back in 2008. Both teams are very even which is why LSU are only slight favorites at home.
The Gamecocks have been a solid 5-1 against the spread this year, covering their last five games. In addition, they are 6-0 ATS in their last six against a team with a winning record. Meanwhile, the Tigers haven't been able to cover in three straight games and are 2-4 on the season, but are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 conference games.
This series has been dominated by LSU. They have played 19 times since 1930 with LSU winning 16 of those (one tie). The last time they played was 2008, a 24-17 LSU win. South Carolina last won in 1994, an 18-17 final and prior to that, in 1930! The feeling here is that this is South Carolina's best team in years. We have them as having played a slightly more difficult schedule than LSU yet their numbers are better and it's the South Carolina defense, which we feel is every bit as good as the Gators or better, that will win this game.
Our score prediction model has this as a 17-13 SC win so the under may be worth a look as well. As indicated by our model, this game figures to play out very much the same way the Florida/LSU game did last week. Points figure to be hard to come by making the +3 very attractive. We have often stated that we aren't big Steve Spurrier fans, referring to his time at SC. That being said, we like Les Miles even less. This figures to be a good one decided late. We like the Gamecocks chances here. 3* Key Release - South Carolina +3
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