Mississippi Rebels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Pick – Point Spread

No. 4 Mississippi Rebels (2-0, 2-0 ATS) at South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1, 3-0 ATS) Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, SC Thursday September 24th, 7:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Ole Miss -3.5/South Carolina +3.5 (Line opened at -4.5 and has already been bet down a point!)
Over/Under: TBA

The perception of SEC Football is second to none and the nation will get the pleasure of watching one of the best from the SEC in the No. 4 Mississippi Rebels this Thursday Night when they travel to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, SC. The Gamecocks are definitely not any type of pushover in the SEC as they nearly upset the Georgia Bulldogs just two weeks ago in a 41-37 shootout. The South Carolina offense has been vastly progressing and they will go heads up with one of the best offenses in the nation by way of the Rebels.

Mississippi has blown out all competition thus far in the season averaging
just less than 50 points per contest behind quarterback Jevan Snead
who has one of the best arms in the country. However, things are sure to
get tougher for the Rebels as they take on pretty feisty defense in the
conference opener. So far this season a top 5 team has fallen every week
and the Rebels will try to make sure they do not fall victim to an upset
this Thursday.

South Carolina opened their season on Thursday night this year beating
North Carolina State in a 7-3 baseball type scoring game. However, the Gamecocks
offense has come to life behind quarterback Stephen Garcia
over the past two games racking up 75 points in those contests. For Garcia,
last Saturday’s victory over Florida Atlantic 38-16 was the first game of
the sophomore’s young career he has not thrown an interception. A particular
stat that is huge to South Carolina faithful considering they lead the nation
in picks last year with 27 as a team. Garcia threw 20 for 27 and 222 yards
in their victory last Saturday over the Owls.

The offense is surrounded by young playmakers. Freshman Jarvis
Giles
recorded his first 100 yard game on the ground while another
freshman in WR Tori Gurley also recorded his first 100
yard receiving game last week. The Gamecocks offense seems to be getting
a lift from their youngsters. However, the pressure will still be on Garcia
behind center. In all likely scenarios South Carolina will have to continue
to put up a lot of points to keep up with the Rebels offense. It is imperative
Garcia remain under control and not return to old habits.

Mississippi on the other hand may very well have the best offense in the
country. Considering they dwell in the same conference with Florida, those
words should open eyes. Even if they are not more dynamic than the Gators,
they still have plenty of weapons on the gridiron. It all starts with Jevan
Snead behind center. Snead had a breakout sophomore season last year, but
has yet to really breakout in 2009. The Rebels quarterback threw 2 picks
in their opener against Memphis before rallying back this past weekend throwing
3 touchdowns without a pick against Southeastern Louisiana. The receiving
core is talented with the likes of Shay Hodge and the all
purpose threat of Dexter McCluster. Both athletes have
the ability to break open big plays in the passing game. However, the Rebels
spread the ball around so the South Carolina defense must play well at every
position.

The game rightfully expects to see points scored. Both pass defenses have had their question marks at times. The Gamecocks have not been near as impressive over the past two weeks as they were in their opener on defense given the 41 points given up to Georgia. The Rebels gave up more passing yards than any other team in the SEC in 2008 which of course will be tested by the Steve Spurrier’s offense. However, the Rebels may hold the advantage with their defensive front.

Mississippi is tough up front against the run as they held teams to just 85 yards per game on the ground last season and appear they could come close to similar numbers again in 2009. The Gamecocks busted out one of the biggest ground performances in recent memory against Florida Atlantic running the ball for 270 plus yards as a team. The Gamecocks ground success has been a big aid into the progress in the passing game. If they are stopped up front, it will put a load of pressure on some of their young guys on offense. If that happens, no upset will happen.

Jay’s Pick - Columbia is tough place to play on Thursday night’s as the Gamecocks have won 5 out of their last 7 on the big stage. The betting public will be on Ole Miss here, but it’s a risky bet. The Rebels pass defense is questionable, and the Gamecocks have not gotten pressure up front in recent weeks meaning Snead will have time to throw the ball. Expect points to be scored and consider a play on the over.