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Tennessee

vs.

South Carolina

SEC Football Pick

10/27/12

Two weeks ago, South Carolina was looking very good coming off a 35-7 over Georgia. Two weeks later and that feeling isn't the same. Two road games against Top 10 opponents will do that to you. They are expected to get back on the winning side with three straight home games, starting with Tennessee. The Volunteers have had schedule problems of their own. They fought tough on the road against Georgia and Mississippi State and played Alabama last weekend. The Gamecocks will be their last ranked opponent of the season and Tennessee will need a win to help their bowl causes.

Last year's contest in Knoxville was dominated defensively by South Carolina as they won 14-3. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray missed that game and will be the big difference this year. The Gamecocks will probably have to score more than 14 points if they want to win. In their two previous SEC road games, the Volunteers scored 44 and 31 points against Georgia and Miss. State, respectively.

Bray has been healthy all season and his numbers show for it with 1,914 yards and 16 touchdowns. His problem has been interceptions which he has nine of. Against most SEC defenses, you can't throw multiple interceptions and live to tell about it. He has thrown at least two INTs against three of four SEC opponents this season. Because of that, running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane should see a healthy dose of touches. Neal missed last week due to an ankle injury, but should be back for this one. He's been the lead back this season with 112 carries, 500 yards and five TDs. Lane managed a solid 103 total yards last week vs. Alabama. Top receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson haven't really had overly good games in about a month and will be needed to help Bray in the passing game. Both of them have big-play ability.

The Volunteers defense has been their weak point. In four SEC games, they are giving up over 43 points per game. While South Carolina may not be a scoring force, they still have scored against some of the weaker SEC defenses (Missouri, Kentucky).

Quarterback Connor Shaw is the main reason their offense is lacking. While he is completing 65 percent of his passes, he has only completed more than 10 passes in three of seven games. With those numbers, you'd expect his running to be off the charts, but he only has 278 rushing yards on 85 carries. That includes -3 yards in his last two games. With starting running back Marcus Lattimore dealing with a hip injury, the Gamecocks offense struggled last week. He'll probably be limited again this week. Mike Davis and Kenny Miles will likely split touches again. The two of them have a combined 51 carries for 252 yards on the year.

Tennessee has struggled in the books this year and are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 conference games while the Gamecocks have covered in six straight home games. The Volunteers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings in South Carolina, but the favorite is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings. Contradicting that even more, the road team is 11-3-1 ATS in the last 15 times these teams have met.

This is a tricky spot for a handicapper. You have to decide whether or not you can trust South Carolina after last weeks blowout loss in a big spot. Can they bounce back? Or did that loss destroy this team mentally? If you believe they can bounce back, our model suggests the Gamecocks will blow the doors off the Vols, 42-17. We aren't in the habit of laying double digits in an SEC game and the questions surrounding SC will keep us off this one, but we'll put it out as an opinion. South Carolina -13.5

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