No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Thursday August 28th, 2014. 6:00PM EST
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TAMU +10.5/USC -10.5
Over/Under Total: 58
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The first game of the college football season will also feature the first game on the new SEC Network as the no. 21 Texas A&M Aggies meet the no. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks inside Williams-Brice Stadium marking the first meeting between both schools. The Gamecocks come into the 2014 season fresh off their 2nd straight 11 win season at a time the program has reached historical heights under head coach Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks currently own the nation’s longest home winning streak with 18 straight wins and are knocking on the door of getting that first SEC Championship which has been the goal since Spurrier arrived in Columbia.
The Gamecocks enter this Thursday’s matchup with Texas A&M sporting one of their highest preseason rankings in school history. Ranked 9th in the country, the Gamecocks have the opportunity to establish themselves as the elites in the SEC East. However, the Aggies promise to bring a tough challenge into Columbia this Thursday as well. Texas A&M enters 2014 ranked 21st in the preseason Top 25. Perhaps the most resounding question amongst college football fans is how will the Aggies perform in the post Johnny Football era? The Aggies prized Heisman Trophy quarterback departed to the NFL over the offseason leaving coach Kevin Sumlin the task of molding another young talent into a SEC winning quarterback.
Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill won a fierce offseason quarterback battle over freshman Kyle Allen. Hill was the backup to Johnny Manziel last year and perhaps is a bit more familiar with Sumlin’s system. The Aggies offense has not had any problems moving the football in recent years with Sumlin’s spread offense. In 2013, the Aggies ranked 9th in total offense averaging 538 yards per game and produced the 5th best scoring offense in college football with 44.2 points per game. The Aggies offense will be completely new at the skill positions in 2014 but Sumlin tends to get the best from his offense so do not expect too much regression. The good news for Aggies fans this week is that South Carolina is extremely thin and inexperienced in the secondary. Therefore expect Sumlin’s hurry up offense to keep the pressure on the Gamecocks pass defense if he can get a good performance out of his young quarterback.
South Carolina lost two cornerbacks unexpectedly over the offseason and are breaking in some young guys at the corners. Additionally the Gamecocks defense lost the #1 player in the nation from last year’s group in defensive end JaDeveon Clowney. Even though Clowney’s statistics were down in 2013, his presence consistently changed the course of games. This year the Gamecocks will look for a new group of talent along the defensive line to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks led by Darius English and Gerald Dixon. The Gamecocks will need their defensive front to play well against the Aggies to keep
pressure on Hill and help out their inexperienced secondary.
Offensively, the Gamecocks return nearly everyone with the exception of quarterback Connor Shaw. Shaw may have been the best quarterback that ever wore the garnet and black for South Carolina. Shaw was a perfect 17-0 at home and was South Carolina’s winningest quarterback. This year senior Dylan Thompson will step in and try to replicate Shaw’s success. In actuality, Thompson is a better passer than Shaw and can stretch the field vertically better in the passing game. However, Shaw consistently bailed out the South Carolina offense with his legs and running ability which is something that his protg lacks.
Still, the Gamecocks have a ton of talent on offense starting up front with a big offensive line which will lead the way for running back Mike Davis. Davis is among the best tailbacks in the SEC and quite possibly the entire country. Davis was posting Heisman Trophy type statistics during the first half of 2013 before injuries slowed his progress during the latter part of the season. With Davis healthy again, expect the Gamecocks to run the ball right at the Aggies vulnerable defense in attempt to control the tempo and keep the ball from the Aggies offense. I fully expect the Gamecocks to throw the football and do well. However, this game will be won or lost on the Gamecocks ability to run the football and keep the chains moving.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Gamecocks defense is the x factor in this matchup and nobody knows exactly what to expect from this group. If the Aggies frustrate the defense early, it could be a long day of back and forth scoring. Take the over 58! Bet this game for FREE by registering for an account at GTBets, depositing $100 and getting a $100 bet FREE!