Kentucky Wildcats (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday September 12th, 2015. 7:30PM EST
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C.
by Jay, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UK +7.5/USC -7.5
Over/Under Total: 57
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The South Carolina Gamecocks kicked off the 2015 college football season last week by capturing a victory over North Carolina last Thursday inside Bank of America Stadium in a border rivalry meeting. While the win was not pretty in many ways, it marked the 7th time the Gamecocks have won on a Thursday night to open the season under head coach Steve Spurrier. Spurrier who is entering his 11th season is trying to get the Gamecocks back into the thick of the SEC East race after taking a big step back in 2014. This week the Gamecocks will get their first crack at an SEC East foe when they welcome the visiting Kentucky Wildcats into Williams-Brice Stadium.
Even though the Gamecocks have won 8 of their 10 meetings against Kentucky under Spurrier, the Wildcats have still been a nuisance to the Ole Ball Coach. The Wildcats have upset the Gamecocks in 2 of the last 5 meetings including a 45-38 shocker last year in Lexington. This year questions loom around both programs. The Wildcats had serious trouble with Louisiana Lafayette last week as 17 point favorites while South Carolina had to come up with 2 interceptions inside their own end zone to escape Charlotte with a ugly 17-13 victory.
One positive for the Gamecocks is that their defense come up with big plays last week against North Carolina when they needed to get a few turnovers and get some key stops at opportune times. South Carolinas defense was blamed mostly for their big fall last year after 11 win seasons in each of the prior two years from 2012-2013. If the defense can keep going, then Spurrier has some talent to work with on the offensive side of the ball. South Carolina has a trio of running backs led by Brandon Wilds with a strong offensive front and has one of the best wide outs in the country by way of Pharoh Cooper. The key for the offenses immediate and long term success will ride on the shoulders of quarterback Connor Mitch.
Mitch did not look sharp in his debut in Charlotte last week missing his first 7 throws and making a few questionable decisions with the football. The former North Carolina high school record setter got going a bit in the 2nd half but it was still a pretty shaky performance. For South Carolina to be good this year and make a move back to the top of the SEC East, they will need Mitch to mature in a hurry. Last week the offense looked pretty average at best with the absence of a passing game. We all know how Spurrier stays on his quarterbacks so it will be interesting to see how long Mitch is in the starting role if he continues to disappoint.
Kentucky has the opportunity to deliver Spurrier and company another upset loss. The potential is there but some things need to happen. The Wildcats have to tighten up their run defense. The Gamecocks have 3 running backs that will provide healthy legs at all times not to mention Spurrier has several formations that will include Pharoh Cooper in the wildcat formation along with other zone read plays giving Connor Mitch the opportunity to take off. Kentucky gave up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground in 2014 and they had a rough start again last week giving up 247 rushing yards to Louisiana Lafayette. For Kentucky to stay in this game, they must do a sound job of stopping the run and forcing Mitch into throwing situations.
Offensively, the Wildcats will have opportunities. Quarterback Patrick Towles is entering his junior campaign and should be much improved evidence by last weeks 3 touchdown start. Running back Stanley Williams will get plenty of touches this year as the feature back which could lead to a breakout year. In fact, Williams recorded 135 yards on just 10 touches last week that included a 75 yard touchdown run. Needless to say, Mark Stoops offense has the talent in position to trade paint with the Gamecocks but it will be up to their defense to give them that fighting chance.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think this could be a rather ugly game offensively. South Carolina can move the football to eat up the clock but their drives often stalled out last week after a few move of the chains. Expect that again this week and Kentucky to also to struggle manufacturing points. Take the under 57!
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