Texas A&M Aggies (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1st, 4:00pm EST
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TAM -18 / SC +18
This Saturday afternoon there is an SEC East versus SEC West game between the 9th ranked Texas A&M Aggies and the rebuilding South Carolina Gamecocks. This is a new series that did not start until Texas A&M joined the SEC just a few years ago. These two teams have only met twice with the Aggies being the winners in both games.
The line at this time has the Aggies as the 18 point road favorite. This is a rather high number seeing as how this is the SEC and Williams-Brice is not an easy place to play ever. But, the Texas A&M team has looked good so far in 2016. To be honest, after all the quarterback issues and transfers in the off season not only did I think the Aggies were staring a 7-5 season in the face, I thought coach Kevin Sumlin may be on the hot seat. Now, the season is still young, but if the first four weeks are any indication of how this team is going to play all season, they are a true contender for the SEC West, and yes, I know that means they have to top Alabama. The total points for this game has not yet been set.
The early action is actually on Texas A&M to go in and cover on the road. 61% of the betting action likes the Aggies while just 39% think the Gamecocks can get the home cover. Both teams records against the spread in 2016 matches their overall records. South Carolina is 2-2 while A&M sits at 4-0 against the spread.
Texas A&M has looked pretty good in 2016, much better than I and many experts thought they would. They are already 4-0 with wins over UCLA, Auburn, and Arkansas. All three of those games were games that they could potentially lose but they found ways to win. Being 2-0 in the SEC is huge for A&M since it seems LSU is down, they have already beaten Auburn and Arkansas (who both play in the West division with A&M). A win over South Carolina this weekend and Texas A&M will be in a three team race with Alabama and Ole Miss for the western division crown. The play of Trevor Knight has been the bright spot for the Aggies offense. Knight, a transfer from Oklahoma, got the start in 2016 and has played well so far. He has thrown for 1,055 yards and seven touchdowns on the season with a completion percentage of around 54% The percentage will need to improve as the season goes on, but Knight has been a great game manager and when needed, he made the plays the Aggies needed. The Texas A&M defense can also get much of the credit for the 4-0 start as well. The Aggies have the 18th best scoring defense in the nation and usually after four weeks much of that is due to a weak schedule. That cannot be said for A&M. They opened against a UCLA team that can score and that also includes two SEC games. This defense is the real deal and it could cause some issues for a young Gamecocks team.
South Carolina is rebuilding. They had a few decent years under Steve Spurrier during the Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, and Jadeveon Clowney days. South Carolina was on the cusp of their first conference title since they won the ACC back in 1966 but they came up short when they faced Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Title game in 2010. Since that time, this team has been on a downward spiral and it was the cause of Spurrier to “resign” and step down mid season last year. We are now entering the Will Muschamp Era. Muschamp for many years was considered the next great coach in waiting. He was a great defensive coordinator at Texas then he eventually got the Florida job and things did not quite go well. After a few losses to Georgia and no appearances in the SEC Title game, he was let go. Now, he has a new chance to gain the respect of the Gamecock Nation. Lets be honest, the Gamecocks program is not as harsh as Florida and do not have the same expectations. They will give Muschamp reasonable time to get things right. However, right now we are in 2016 and this team is not good…they just aren’t. They barely hung on to beat Vanderbilt in the season opener then they went on to lose their next two games against SEC opponents Mississippi State and Kentucky. With all that said, this team does play hard. Muschamp has them playing til the very end so you will not see them lay down. The crowd will be fired up. South Carolina, as bad as their history is, does have a great fanbase that supports their team every game. This will take a team effort from South Carolina. Do I think they can win this game? Absolutely not. But Texas A&M better not come in flat or they may find themselves in a dog fight.
As much as I dislike South Carolina (I am a Georgia fan), I think this game gets tricky for A&M. They are coming off a great win over Arkansas and then next week they face a Tennessee team that some think are primed for an SEC Title run after finally ending an 11 game losing streak to Florida last week. This has trap game written all over it. I do think the Aggies make enough plays to win this game but in this situation, in the SEC, in Williams-Brice Stadium, I like the Gamecocks to compete. Texas A&M will win a 24-13 type game in Columbia giving the Cocks the cover and Texas A&M a 5-0 record.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE SOUTH CAROLINA +18
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