South Carolina Gamecocks (4-3 SU, 1-6 ATS) vs. No. 5 Auburn Tigers (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date and Time: Saturday October 25th, 2014. 7:30PM EST
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn, A.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SC +17.5/AUB -17.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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Two weeks ago the Auburn Tigers suffered their first loss of the season against the Mississippi State Bulldogs who have since gained the no. 1 ranking in college football. The 5th ranked Tigers had an extra week to regroup as they prepare for a brutal schedule over the 2nd half of the season. Auburn will play 3 teams that are currently ranked inside the top 10 and needs to avoid any further losses to stay in the playoff hunt. This week Auburn gets back to action with a home stand on the Plains at Jordan-Hare Stadium against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Steve Spurriers Gamecocks have been the biggest disappointment in the SEC this season at 4-3 SU. The Gamecocks started the season ranked inside the top 10 and most experts believed they were going to be the best in the SEC East. However, the Gamecocks have struggled significantly especially on the defensive side of the ball. At 4-3 SU, the Gamecocks are just trying to save face at this point in the season and salvage a decent year. However as stated before, the defense has been atrocious giving up 31.4 points per game which ranks 90th in the FBS. This week the Gamecocks defense gets the tough task of trying to stop Auburns tricky option read rushing offense that has averaged 262 yards per game on the ground.
The Gamecocks defense is extremely young and it takes a lot of discipline to stop Auburns offense. Players must stay in their lanes and make sure tackles. Of course that sounds pretty easy but Auburn has tremendous playmakers in quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne. Artis-Payne leads the team with 664 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Meanwhile Marshall is a big threat in the running game as well averaging 6.6 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns on the season as well. Therefore it is going to be interesting to see if South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can get his young players to play disciplined football and prevent Auburns big play threats in the running game.
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The good news for Gamecock fans is that the South Carolina offense is pretty solid. In fact, the Gamecocks are currently averaging 35 points per game which is on pace to set a school record. The offense has a lot of talent especially at the skill positions. Quarterback Dylan Thompson is a good thrower when he is protected in the pocket. Thompson has thrown 15 touchdowns and 6 picks so far this season while hitting 61% of his targets. The key for Thompson is his protection. When he has time to throw the football, he can be quite deadly but struggles significantly under duress. Therefore keep a close watch on Auburns defensive line and their ability to get pressure on Thompson.
The Gamecocks also have a big name running back in Mike Davis that is sure to grab defensive coordinator Ellis Johnsons attention. Davis has really not had a good season but has still managed to post 662 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns through 7 games. After a slow start, the junior tailback has been running well in recent weeks and he is a game changer. Despite Coach Spurriers reputation for the fun and gun, the Gamecocks are best when they are running the football well. Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper will also get into the Wildcat formation often to get the ground game going. Therefore Auburns defense is going to need to play well to shut down the Gamecocks ground game at the point of attack.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Gamecocks have been one of the worse teams in the country against the spread this year going just 1-6 on the season. Meanwhile, Auburn has covered in 14 of their last 17 games and are really good at home going 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games. South Carolina had a solid 41-10 win over Furman last week but their defense still struggled significantly especially against the run. This defense is simply not very good and they have not shown the ability to stop the type of running offenses that Auburn will display this Saturday night. This one gets out of hand quick. Take Auburn -17.5