Game Time: Saturday, September 22th, 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Odds: South Carolina (-2.5), -135 (South Carolina Moneyline), +130 (Vanderbilt Moneyline), 54 (O/U)
Here’s what’s a little tricky about the South Carolina-Vandy match-up this Saturday: one is coming off a potentially season-changing road loss last week and the other’s game was cancelled.
Both the Gamecocks and the Commodores are not only searching for their first conference win of the season, but avoiding their second loss.
This one feels like the Gamecocks have a lot more to lose than Vandy.
For one, expectations are never great in Nashville, so they’re playing well above them right now and, secondly, South Carolina already has one conference loss. So, it’s fair to ask, will they be the ones to play with more urgency and desperation.
Anything you read about the Gamecocks being last in the league in all the major offensive statistical categories should be taken with a grain of salt as the sample size is smaller than the other 13 teams. Their game with Marshall last weekend was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. The fact of the matter is, Jake Bentley is doing better than average in the passing game, with 519 passing yards and 5 TDs to 2 picks through two games.
The offense as a whole is averaging 446 yards per game. Against an elite UGA defense that’s allowing just over 300 yards and 8 points per game, they couldn’t get the running game going, but Bentley passed for 269 yards and a touchdown. It was the two picks, one returned for a touchdown, that put them in too much of a hole.
Vandy, too, is finding an offensive identity for itself as Kyle Shurmur has passed for 754 yards, 5 touchdowns to one pick through three games. It was a gutsy effort in South Bend last weekend where he passed for 324 yards and a touchdown against a stingy Fighting Irish defense that endeared him to the Commodore faithful.
He’s obviously the most effective quarterback they’ve had in several years and, even though a Will Muschamp/Tarvaris Robinson defense can send you hurdling back to earth quickly, he has the tools around him to find success. His offensive line has only allowed 3 sacks so far and while the running game hit a wall last week, they still have three reliable backs, two of whom are averaging over 5 yards a carry.
By that rationale, I feel whoever’s rushing game catches fire is going to win the game. Both teams’ defenses allowed a serious number of rushing yards against Notre Dame and Georgia, but Vandy’s has played with a little bit more consistency. For that reason and “home field advantage” (let’s be honest, there might be more Gamecocks fans there), I’m predicting for a Commodore upset.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 24 South Carolina 21