Vanderbilt Commodores (2-5, 1-4-1 ATS) at No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 5-1) Williams Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C Saturday October 24th, 7:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Vanderbilt +12.5/South Carolina -12.5
The South Carolina Gamecocks proved last week against Alabama that they are a solid team and should be a force for the rest of the season. Despite the 20-6 loss, the Gamecocks played the Crimson Tide well and had their opportunities to make things very interesting against the now no. 1 team in the country. However, the Gamecocks quickly have to turn their focus to a home stand against the Vanderbilt Commodores this Saturday night to avoid any letdown performance situation.
This has normally been the time of the year South Carolina has folded in the 2nd half of the season as they are just 2-8 in their final 5 games of the season over the last two years. The Commodores started the downslide back in 2007 when they upset the Gamecocks on an early Saturday afternoon in Columbia 17-6. Vanderbilt backed that upset with another underdog victory against the Gamecocks last year in Nashville and surprisingly it has been 3 years since South Carolina beat their SEC East foe. However, the Gamecocks hope to build off last week’s solid performance and avoid any late season collapses.
Vanderbilt has dropped 3 straight games including a 34-10 loss against Georgia last week. The Commodores were the surprise story in the conference a year ago, but have failed to score an SEC victory. Vanderbilt also faces a really brutal schedule ahead with No. 12 Georgia Tech and No. 1 Florida on the horizon. The Commodores are faced with a peculiar situation of facing another 3 straight losses in the face, but they will try to avoid that disaster against a team they have been able to play well against. The Commodores offense is the biggest difference this season as they have been flat awful scoring just 17 points per game.
Still, the Commodores remain tough with the nations number 3 ranked pass
defense. In fact, the Commodores success over the Gamecocks over the past
few seasons has been in fact come from the pass defense. In those past two
games, Vanderbilt has forced 6 interceptions from the South Carolina quarterbacks.
If Vanderbilt can force a few more turnovers this weekend there is no reason
not to think they can not pull off a 3rd straight victory. With some help
of the defense, the Commodores offense can ride on the legs of running back
Warren Norman. Norman is averaging 5.7 yards per carry
and has totaled 450 yards on the season. Expect Vanderbilt to attempt to
try and wear down the South Carolina defense similar to the way Alabama
did last week to avoid dropping their 4th straight contest.
South Carolina also sports a pretty good defense as well. After all, the defense only allowed 13 points from Alabama last week as the other touchdown scored was off a Stephen Garcia interception. The Gamecocks defense ranks 19th overall allowing 291 yards per game and they are only allowing 18 points per game on the season as well. The Gamecocks secondary houses a very talented young group of guys meaning if Vanderbilt is to move the ball it will indeed need to be done on the ground.
Stephen Garcia will be the big factor to the game. Garcia has consistently improved throughout the year even though he gives up the occasional bad decision throw. However, the South Carolina offensive line will receive a big test. The Gamecocks allow 2.86 sacks per game which is the worse in the SEC and towards the bottom of all teams around the country. Vanderbilt has a talented pass rush that could get some pressure on Garcia. Garcia has not handled the pressure well this season and that will be something to watch for if the Commodores can get pressure.
On the other hand, don’t expect South Carolina to throw the ball every play. Freshman tailbacks Kenny Miles and Jarvis Giles have big play capability. South Carolina will likely attempt to establish the run before working in the passing game. Once the passing game does get going, keep your eyes on another freshman who is emerging into a big time target by name of Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery posted 3 scores two weeks ago against Kentucky and was the result of the Gamecocks biggest play last week against the Crimson Tide.
Jay’s Pick - The Gamecocks have been strong against the books at 5-1 and they have the team this year to get back at Vanderbilt for the past few disappointments. Take South Carolina -12.5.