College Football Picks: South Carolina vs. Tennessee

Darin Zank

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 7:13 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 7:13 PM UTC

We preview and share our free college football picks for the SEC matchup between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Tenessee Volunteers.

The ol' ball coach had his Gamecocks rockin' last week in Arkansas. This week Coach Spurrier leads  his troops on another Southeastern Conference road raid, this time for a battle with Rocky Top Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium (noon ET, ESPN).

SC is right in the running for a berth in the SEC championship game, and has beaten Tennessee three years in a row. How will things play out Saturday in Knoxville? And might there be some money to be made by, say, placing a bet on the proceedings?

Gear up for this week's action with our College Football Picks: Week 8 Odds Report.

The Betting Line 

Many  college football odds shops opened this game with South Carolina favored by 7.5 points, then bumped that to -8. 

The total opened at 54, and had held steady in early sports betting action. 

Those who like the Gamecocks but don't want to give up the points can get SC at around -300 on the money line, while those who think Tennessee has a chance to pull the upset can get the Vols at around +260 to win this one straight-up.


'Cocks-Vols: The Set-Up 

With 12 starters back, including their starting QB, four along the offensive line, All-World DE Jadeveon Clowney and three-quarters of the secondary, from a team that went 11-2 last year, the Gamecocks were expected to battle it out with Georgia and Florida for the East Division title. So far, that's about how things have played out. 

But the South Carolina Gamecocks might as well have been the favorites, considering they won't have to play Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M. 

SC opened this season with a 27-10 win over North Carolina, then lost its SEC opener to Georgia 41-30. The Gamecocks then beat Vandy 35-25, edged Central Florida 28-25 (a good win), then hung on to defeat Kentucky 35-28, a game they played without an injured Clowney. 

Last week, with Clowney back and after spotting the Hogs the game's first touchdown, South Carolina scored the next 52 points for the blow-out victory. The Gamecocks out-gained the Razorbacks by almost 300 yards, held the ball for 43 minutes and easily covered the spread as five-point favorites. 

But SC is only 2-4 ATS this year because it's won three games already in which it was apparently favored by too much.  

On the other side of this match-up the Vols returned 13 starters this year, including their top two rushers, four of the big boys up front, and eight guys on defense for their first season under new head coach Butch Jones. But they basically had to replace their entire passing game, after the departures of QB Tyler Bray and last year's top four pass catchers.

Realistically, Tennessee is expected to finish somewhere behind UGA, South Carolina and Florida in the SEC East this year.

The Vols opened this season with a 45-0 whitewash of Austin Peay and a 52-20 victory over Western Kentucky. But then the schedule got a little stronger – to say the least. The Vols went up to Oregon and took a 59-14 shellacking, then opened SEC play with a 31-17 loss at Florida.

Tennessee then came home and beat South Alabama 31-24, but then, with a chance at a signature victory for the new regime, the Vols let Georgia drive 75 yards in the last two minutes to tie the game, then lost in overtime 34-31.

So Tennessee is 3-3 ATS, but 2-1 ATS as an underdog.

Big-picture, South Carolina is 3-1 in the SEC West, tied with Georgia and Florida, behind only Missouri, which is 2-0 in league play.

The Vols trail them all at 0-2.

Tennessee had last week off.

One Common Opponent

These teams have played one common foe so far this year. South Carolina lost at Georgia by 11 points back on Sept. 7, although that game was tied at 24 at the half. Meanwhile Tennessee lost to the Bulldogs 34-31 in OT, and had a great shot at the upset.

The Series

South Carolina has beaten Tennessee the last three seasons. Last year the Gamecocks had to hang on for a 38-35 victory over the Vols in Columbia, and while three times they scored to go ahead by 14 points, they couldn't cover as 13-point favorites.

Tennessee had the ball at the SC 20 yard-line late in that game, but fumbled away a shot at a field goal.

The teams combined for 980 yards of offense that day, and the game flew OVER its total of 54.

'Cocks-Vols Betting Trends

These two teams are both 4-2 on the OVER/UNDERS this season.

Tennessee is 0-18 SU and 6-12 ATS in its last 18 games vs. ranked opponents.

The road team is 9-3-1 ATS the last 13 meetings.

The Vols are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.

Our Take on Saturday's Game

South Carolina is the better team here; it's got the edge at quarterback, and on defense, and while Spurrier is in his ninth season with the Gamecocks the Vols are in their first under Jones. But Tennessee played Georgia tough and has had the extra week off. Usually we're fans of taking ranked teams on the road, because the spreads are better. But in this case we're going with the home-dog Volunteers for our free college football pick for Saturday.
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