South Carolina Gamecocks (8-5 last season) +5 , o/u 45 at Georgia Bulldogs (9-4), 5:45 pm Eastern Saturday
by Zman of Predictem.com
Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks begin their SEC slate with a visit to Athens and a bout with the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.
Both of these teams won their season openers last week; SC beat Louisiana-Lafayette 28-14 as 28-point home favorites, while UGA knocked off Oklahoma State 35-14 as seven-point home chalk.
The Bulldogs have beaten the Gamecocks five times in a row. Last season, in Columbia, Georgia shut out SC 18-0, outrushing the ‘Cocks 198-35 along the way.
South Carolina went just 3-5 in SEC play last season before outscoring Houston 44-36 in the Liberty Bowl. The ‘Dogs went 4-4 in the SEC before upsetting Virginia Tech 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The Bulldogs are returning only 11 starters from last season, four on defense, while the Gamecocks have 17 starters back, 10 on defense.
Georgia is ranked 11th in this week’s Associated Press poll, 12th in the Coaches poll, and ninth in Phil Steele’s pre-season Power Poll.
SC is unranked in either the AP or the Coaches polls, but sits at 11th in Steele’s Power Poll.
And while the Bulldogs are rated 15th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR rankings (at USAToday.com) at 87.3, the Gamecocks are 54th at 72.7.
South Carolina went 8-3 against the spread last season, 4-1 straight up and 5-0 ATS on the road.
Georgia went just 4-6-1 vs. the numbers last season, 5-2 straight up but 1-4-1 against the spread at home.
Last week, the Gamecocks struggled a bit with the Sun Belt’s Ragin’ Cajuns. The game was tied at 14 late into the second quarter, and SC ended up getting outrushed by a 311-188 margin.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs outrushed the Cowboys last weekend 146-67 and opened up the game after leading 21-14 at the half to win 35-14.
SC senior QB Blake Mitchell, who’s made 16 career starts for the ‘Cocks, is expected to start this week after sitting out last week’s game on a disciplinary issue.
Georgia sophomore QB Matt Stafford, in his ninth career start last week, went 18 of 24 for 234 yards and a couple of TDs.
Georgia opened up as about 5 1/2-point favorites at most sportsbooks for Saturday’s game, with a total of 45, and both those numbers have held steady through Wednesday night.
The Predictem Pick: South Carolina Gamecocks at +4.5 (sharp action line move at time of print.)