South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 10th 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC +6.5/MSU -6.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
SEC Football action continues this week as the South Carolina Gamecocks travel into Starkville for a date with the Mississippi State Bulldogs inside Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs were stunned last week at the hands of the South Alabama Jaguars. The Jaguars, hailing out of the FCS as 28 point underdogs, rallied from a 17-0 1st half deficit to score 14 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Bulldogs in a shocking 21-20 upset in Starkville. For a team that went 9-4 last year through the big bad SEC West, the opening home loss was quite a stunner. This week Mississippi State gets an opportunity to right the ship as they will be 6.5 point favorites over South Carolina.
The Gamecocks did not look very impressive in their opener either but they were able to get an SEC road victory nevertheless. The Gamecocks rallied back from a 10-0 deficit to beat Vanderbilt 13-10 in Coach Will Muschamp’s debut in the garnet and black. South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry delivered a 55 yard field goal in the final seconds to earn South Carolina the victory. However, I believe most would agree that it was a pretty ugly performance for the most part. South Carolina really struggled to move the football as they fielded two quarterbacks in Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain. When the offense did find some rhythm, it resulted in stalled out drives or turnovers.
From watching the Vanderbilt game and being a big SEC guy, I can tell you that South Carolina’s overall talent is down. I believe Steve Spurrier simply quit recruiting over the last few years. Either way Muschamp will get things going especially in the recruiting side of things. For this week, South Carolina has a few things to build off of in their preparation for the Bulldogs. One of the promising aspects of last week’s road win for South Carolina was the play of the defense. I know Vanderbilt is not any type of offensive powerhouse but the Gamecocks really attacked the football well. They were disciplined and never gave up any back breaking plays. That was not the story a year ago and it is obvious that Muschamp has stamped his defensive ingenuity onto this group.
The improvement in South Carolina’s defensive play will be big in this week’s match-up against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs love to keep the football on the ground similar to the way Vanderbilt did last week. However, the Bulldogs offense is much better at running the football with tailback Brandon Holloway and quarterback Damian Williams. Williams actually led the team in rushing last week against South Alabama with 93 yards on 12 carries. Williams was also pretty solid throwing the football completing 20 of 28 passing for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Williams and Holloway were easily the two biggest playmakers on offense last week. Holloway had 46 yards on 11 carries out of the backfield but also caught 5 passes for 40 yards as well. The key for Mississippi State will be finding creative ways to get those guys in space against South Carolina. The Gamecocks did a good job of getting to the football last weekend but they are still vulnerable in the open field. With two solid defenses in action and another matchup with less than exciting offenses, a few big plays could really swing the momentum of this game. The team that can make the big plays on offense is going to be the winner.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This may easily be another low scoring “ugly” type of game. I think the defenses will have the upper hand yet again similar to the way both teams played in their openers. However, I think South Carolina has a couple more ways to attack in this game with both quarterbacks. Orth can throw it pretty well and McIlwain can run the ball well. Muschamp will give both the opportunity at Mississippi State’s defense and they will go with the guy that has the most success. Additionally WR Bryan Edwards looks like he could become a big time SEC threat. Take South Carolina +6.5!
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