South Carolina faces a juggernaut of an SEC opener, playing No. 2 Georgia on the road on Saturday. The Gamecocks opening up as a 32-point underdog, the largest line for the team in a while. ESPN Chalk gambling writer David Purdum joins us to break down and provides context for the betting line.
The State: South Carolina opened as a 32-point underdog against Georgia. Do you think that’s more reflective of oddsmakers’ perception of the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs or a mixture of both?
DP: Yeah, a mixture of both. They’re always going to have their power ratings on each team, and that’s going to show in the number. This number is extremely high. I went and tried to find another game that South Carolina was a 30-plus point underdog. I had to go all the way to 1999. They were a 33-point underdog to Tennessee that year. I have not seen a game, unless I’m missing something, that they have been a 30-point underdog since 1999, so we’re talking 21 years, 22 years there since they’ve been this big of an underdog. This is historical numbers for South Carolina that we’re seeing right now in terms of them being an underdog. They’ve never been this big of an underdog.
Editor’s note: 1999 was South Carolina’s 0-11 season under Lou Holtz. Tennessee won the game referenced above 30-7. The Vols roster included future NFL star running back Jamal Lewis.
TS: How has South Carolina done against the spread vs. Georgia in recent memory?
DP: For a while, those games were so close. They’re 2-4 in their last six against Georgia against the spread and they’re 1-5 in those games straight up, so it’s been a struggle for them. They’ve been a 20-plus point underdog three of the last four years. Jumping up to a 32-point underdog with them really shows how far that program has fallen and how much Georgia has risen.
TS: When’s the last time the Gamecocks were favored against Georgia?
DP: 2012. They were a one-point favorite against Georgia. They won that game 35-7.
TS: What’s the over/under on conference wins for South Carolina?
DP: Their over/under on SEC conference wins was 1½ to begin the season. Not very many. I think overall on their schedule, their season win total is only like 2, 2½. Expectations are low.
TS: Who are the early favorites to win the SEC East? I’m guessing Georgia.
DP: They don’t really have division odds, but the odds to win the SEC are Alabama is favored. Georgia is close behind. South Carolina right now is 500/1 to win the SEC while Alabama is a -175 favorite and Georgia is +180.