South Carolina at Georgia
September 6, 2013
By Brian Edwards
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Matchup: South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Bulldogs
Venue: Sanford Stadium (Grass)
Date: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m. ET - ESPN
Line: Georgia -3 1/2, Over/Under 56
Last Meeting: 2012, South Carolina 35 vs. Georgia 7
Coming off a 38-35 loss at Clemson, Georgia (0-1 straight up, 0-1 against the spread) returns home Saturday with hopes of avoiding the script of its 2011 campaign. Two years ago, UGA opened the season with a loss to Boise State and then fell to 0-2 when Melvin Ingram led South Carolina to a 45-42 win between the hedges.
March Richt’s team opened as a four-point favorite Sunday night, but the number was three by early Monday morning. The line remained at three until Thursday when most spots move to 3.5, while others were reluctant to come off the key number and simply added more juice (-115 or -120) for those looking to support the Bulldogs.
As of early Monday morning, UGA was favored by 3.5 with a total of 56. Gamblers can take Steve Spurrier’s team to win outright for a +145 return (risk $100 to win $145). The Dawgs are 2.5-point favorites for first-half wagers with a total of 28.
South Carolina (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) has won three in a row over Georgia, including a 35-7 beatdown in Columbia last season. The Gamecocks raced out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and it was over that quickly and easily. Only a short touchdown run for UGA with 1:55 remaining prevented it from taking cream-cheese treatment.
Connor Shaw threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another. Ace Sanders had a punt return for a TD and Marcus Lattimore also got into the end zone.
UGA quarterback Aaron Murray wasn’t allowed to get into any sort of rhythm thanks to ruthless South Carolina pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney. Murray completed only 11-of-31 passes for 109 yards and one interception. The senior signal caller now owns a 1-10 record in 11 career games against opponents ranked in the Top 15.
South Carolina opened last Thursday with a 27-10 win over North Carolina as an 11-point home favorite. The Gamecock had to mount a goal-line stand in the waning moments to preserve the cover for their backers. They had raced out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead behind a TD pass apiece for Shaw and Dylan Thompson.
Shaw improved to 18-3 in 21 career starts. Spurrier’s offense produced 406 yards of total offense while limiting the Tar Heels to 293 yards. Remember, Larry Fedora’s team averaged more than 40 points per game in 2012 and has a veteran QB in Bryn Renner, who had a 28/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season.
Nevertheless, UNC’s lone TD drive needed a bogus facemask penalty on a third-down stop to be kept alive. The 37 combined points fell ‘under’ the 56-point total.
We knew UGA’s offense would be well ahead of its defense in the early going of 2013. That was indeed the case in last week’s loss, which was extra sour since leading returning receiver Malcolm Mitchell suffered a season-ending knee injury during an end-zone celebration.
On the bride side for Georgia, sophomore RB Todd Gurley ran like a beast. Gurley rushed for 154 yards and two TDs on just 12 carries. He was slowed by a quad injury but is ‘probable’ and will start Saturday.
Since 2004, Georgia has compiled a 22-27-1 spread record as a home favorite. Meanwhile, South Carolina owns a 14-9-1 ATS mark during Spurrier’s nine-year tenure.
South Carolina starting TE Rory Anderson has been upgraded to ‘probable’ after missing the season opener with a hamstring strain. Senior WR Bruce Ellington played a little bit against UNC, but he had missed more than two weeks of practice due to a hamstring. During his call-in show this week, Spurrier declared Ellington was ‘back to 100 percent.’
ESPN will provide the telecast at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Sportsbook.ag has updated its odds to win the SEC. Alabama is the -130 ‘chalk,’ followed by Georgia (+450), Texas A&M (+600), South Carolina (+600), Florida (10/1), LSU (10/1) and Ole Miss (25/1).
--The offshore website has ‘Bama as the +250 favorite to win the BCS Championship. The next-shortest odds belong to Ohio St. (5/1), Oregon (8/1), Texas A&M (12/1), FSU (12/1), Texas (15/1), Stanford (18/1), Clemson (18/1) and South Carolina (20/1).
--Sportsbook.ag currently has Alabama as a seven-point favorite for next Saturday’s showdown at Texas A&M. Other lines in the website’s Games of the Year section include Georgia -3 vs. LSU, Clemson -1 vs. FSU, Georgia -2 vs. Florida, Oregon -3 at Stanford, ‘Bama -11 vs. LSU and ‘Bama -21 at Auburn.
--Tennessee is 5-9 ATS in its last 14 games as a double-digit favorite. The Vols will be in that role Saturday when they’re favored by 13.5 or 14 over Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad. The Hilltoppers own a 10-1 spread record in their last 11 games as road underdogs.
--Northwestern QB/WR Kain Colter has been upgraded to ‘probable’ for his team’s home opener vs. Syracuse. Even with Colter and star RB Venric Mark missing most of the game, the Wildcats were able to win 44-30 at Cal last week.
--UNLV has only won six times in 39 games during Bobby Hauck’s tenure. However, the Rebels have thrived as home underdogs with an outstanding 10-3-1 ATS mark. UNLV is a 10.5-point home ‘dog Saturday night vs. Arizona at Sam Boyd Stadium.
--San Jose St. is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games as a road underdog. The Spartans, who lost a 20-17 heartbreaker at Stanford last season, are catching 25.5 Saturday night in Palo Alto. Stanford star LB Shayne Skov will be ‘out’ due to a one-game suspension.