No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday, October 29th, 7:15PM (EST)
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TENN -13/SC +13
Over/Under Total: TBA
After a week off, the Tennessee Volunteers will try to shake off a two game losing skid when they go into Columbia this Saturday night for a date with the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Volunteers dropped their last two games against no. 8 Texas A&M and no. 1 Alabama. However, Tennessee is still very alive in the race for the SEC East thanks to their important victory over Florida. If they can get some help, the Volunteers could still represent the East in the SEC Championship in December. The road to Atlanta will go through Columbia this Saturday as the Volunteers look to get back in the W column against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks are still in the rebuilding phase in Coach Will Muschamp’s first season in Columbia. The Gamecocks just barely got their 3rd win of the season last week in a rather surprisingly close 34-28 victory over UMass. The win halted a 3 game losing skid for the Gamecocks but they still have a long way to go before they will be back towards the top of the SEC as they were for so many years under Spurrier. This South Carolina team is probably the least talented team the Gamecocks have fielded in over a decade. Still, the Gamecocks have found some glimmers of hope this season a lot of freshman that come on board to help kickoff the Muschamp era. Last week, freshman quarterback Jake Bentley gave up his potential redshirt eligibility to make his first start.
Previously, the Gamecocks had been one of the worst offenses in the FBS as they were held to 20 points or below in every game and were averaging just 317 yards of total offense (123rd in FBS). Luckily, the Gamecocks found a spark behind the arm of Bentley who showed great arm strength and natural passing ability which was lost under the run first approach from former quarterback Brandon McIlwain. Bentley hit 17 of 26 passing against the Minutemen and threw 2 passing touchdowns which were the first two passing touchdowns for South Carolina all season. The offense also got a spark from freshman running back Rico Dowdle and freshman WR Bryan Edwards who have been stepping up in recent weeks.
With South Carolina’s offense showing some signs of life, it will be interesting to see how they play at home this week against no. 18 Tennessee and if they can build off last week’s momentum. As most are aware, the Volunteers do not lack any talent on offense and they have posted some big scoring numbers this season. Even in the loss to Texas A&M, the Volunteers managed to hang 38 points before being stifled by the Alabama defense the following week.
To this point in the season, I think most would agree that quarterback Joshua Dobbs has underperformed. Dobbs is completing just 58.5% of his passes with 14 scores and 9 picks on the season. Sure there have been flashes of greatness, just look to the 2nd half of both the Florida and Texas A&M games. However, the Volunteers definitely need more consistency from their biggest talent and that includes protecting the football. Not only has Dobbs thrown 9 interceptions but the Vols have given up 17 turnovers on the season (121st in FBS).
Tennessee has to correct the turnovers issues to avoid any further struggles for the remainder of the year. Will Muschamp has turned South Carolina’s defense around in a pretty short time period and they are a pretty disciplined group. While they still lack some talent, they usually do a good job of preventing big plays and the Vols do not need to help their confidence at home with fortuitous turnovers. I think Tennessee will be able to move the football well especially if they can feed running back Jalen Hurd the football. However, the key towards Tennessee covering this spread remains with ball security and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: South Carolina plays really well at home and their spark on offense last week behind Bentley could be the thing they need to salvage this season. I like South Carolina +13
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