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Pick - Analysis
Vanderbilt is probably one of the only teams that have two conference games in their first three contests, and that's not a good thing, especially in the SEC. The Commodores lost a heartbreaker in their opener against Ole Miss. They scored a touchdown with 1:30 to go, to only give up a 75-yard TD run in the final minute of play. Now in their first road game of the season, things only get harder, as South Carolina is -13.5 point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
The betting trends as of Wednesday at the largest sportsbook in the world, sportsbook.com, favor South Carolina with 68% of the wagers taken thus far coming in on the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks had quite the two opening games, beating North Carolina and then losing at Georgia in a back-and-forth battle. That loss means that Georgia needs to lose a conference game in order for the Gamecocks to have a chance at the SEC Championship game. The rest of their schedule sets up nicely, with their toughest remaining opponent coming at home against Florida.
These two teams faced each other in the first game last year, and it was closer than many thought. Both had trouble scoring in a 17-13 win for South Carolina. In fact, the defenses have controlled this matchup in the past six years as the over hasn't hit since 2006. The total for this game is surprisingly at 51, which is the highest total in this meeting since 2005.
South Carolina won last year's matchup by controlling the ground game. Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw rushed for 202 combined yards, while Vandy could only muster 62 yards on 36 carries. This could easily be the same case on Saturday.
Vanderbilt lost its top rusher in Zac Stacy, and don't have a great replacement. The Commodores have used a three-back system that hasn't garnered much yardage. Their offense is based on new quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels. The former Wyoming starter has looked solid in the first two games, using top receivers Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause with regularity. The problem is that you can't beat South Carolina with passing alone, you need a viable running game, which Georgia used to beat them last weekend.
The Gamecocks haven't lost a step at RB with Mike Davis proving he can do whatever Lattimore did. In the first two games, Davis has 28 carries for 264 yards and two TDs. Connor Shaw looks the same as he did last year, which means he isn't going to take over a game by himself. Against Vandy last year, Shaw ran the ball well, but he also only threw for 67 yards and an interception.
Vanderbilt will need to focus on the run game on both sides of the ball, if they want a better result than last season. Otherwise, Davis and Shaw will run all over the Commodores and Carta-Samuels will be preyed on by Jadeveon Clowney.
The Commodores have some solid trends, covering their last four road games, and also six straight in their last six games following a straight up win. The Gamecocks are just as good, going 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS loss, and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 home games.
We'll go out on a small limb here and go against the public by backing Vanderbilt plus the two touchdowns. Had South Carolina beaten Georgia, we'd like this play even more. Vanderbilt +14
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