No.13 South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date and Time: Saturday October 12th, 2013. 12:21PM Eastern
Where: Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, A.R.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC -6.5/Ark +6.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The South Carolina Gamecocks‘ SEC Championship hopes were
derailed in a week 2 loss to Georgia between the hedges. Since that time,
the Gamecocks have battled back to win 3 straight games and currently own
a respectable 4-1 mark. While the wins may seem great on the outside, the
scary truth is that South Carolina has posted some ugly performances in
the last few weeks. The Gamecocks coughed up a bunch of turnovers in a 28-25
road victory over UCF and nearly blew a 20 point lead at home against Kentucky
last Saturday before edging out the Wildcats 35-28. Needless to say South
Carolina has not been impressive and odds makers have taken notice considering
the fact the Gamecocks will be favored just 6.5 points when they travel
to Fayetteville this week for an early kick against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
On the other hand, Bret Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks
have not been any more impressive in recent weeks. After winning their first
3 games to inferior opponents, the Razorbacks have dropped 3 straight including
a 30-10 loss to no. 18 Florida last week. Despite any surprising victories,
many believe the Razorbacks’ football program is headed back in the right
direction with Bielema in command. Additionally, the Razorbacks defense
has played really well holding opponents to just 339 yards (27th in NCAA)
per game. Arkansas’s defense will have to play extremely well for the Razorbacks
to score the upset considering South Carolina’s balanced offense has posted
31 points on average this season.
To stop the Gamecocks offense, coach Bielema will have to orchestrate a game plan to contain sophomore running back Mike Davis. South Carolina QB Connor Shaw receives most of the accolades but Davis has been the true heart of the offense. Davis has rushed for 614 yards and 8 touchdowns through the first 5 games while averaging almost 7 yards per carry. Davis is a tough runner that breaks tackles and has a lot of speed that makes him a homerun threat out of the backfield. The sophomore running back has exploded several times this year including a pair of 75 yards touchdown runs and a few other game changing carries. If Arkansas is going to have a chance to contend, they will have to stack the box to stop South Carolina’s best playmaker in Mike Davis.
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Even with a great defensive effort, I do not believe Arkansas can shut down South Carolina. QB Connor Shaw has been really effective by completing 68% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and has yet to throw a single interception this season. Still, South Carolina’s passing game is most effective as a compliment to their running attack. Coach Steve Spurrier calls a lot of passes off the play action and option reads which are not nearly as effective if the Gamecocks do not have success running the football. While I believe South Carolina will move the football, Arkansas can still limit the big plays and scoring by slowing down that running game. More importantly perhaps Arkansas can force a few turnovers which will help their cause. South Carolina turnovers have been a big problem this year and they could be a difference maker this Saturday if they continue.
Still Arkansas has had their share of turnover problems as well in recent weeks. The Razorbacks have given up 7 turnovers in their last 3 games which have all resulted in losses. Needless to say, you do not pull off upsets in the SEC by turning the ball over. Therefore Arkansas must be mistake free and attack the Gamecocks defense with their talented rushing attack. The Razorbacks have two extremely solid tailbacks in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. The two tailbacks have combined for 1,154 yards and 7 touchdowns through 6 games. I believe both tailbacks can keep the chains moving against a vulnerable Gamecocks run defense and it will be interesting to see if the Razorbacks can get a little help for QB Brandon Allen in hopes to pull out the victory.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going to stay away from the side in this game as both teams have been too inconsistent confidently pick a winner. Instead pound the under once the total is released as I believe this will be a surprisingly low 20-17 type game. Good luck!
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