South Carolina at Florida
The No.3 Florida Gators host the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks in a crucial SEC East showdown on Saturday, October 20th. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series, including a 17-12 home victory last season. Connor Shaw only went 6 of 12 passing for 81 yards with an interception, but he did at ton of damage on the ground. Shaw rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns, while the defense limited the Gators to 261 total yards in the win.
Taking a look at the odds for Week 8, I find a spread of Florida -3 over South Carolina and a total set of 42 points.
The Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) have been the biggest surprise in the country to this point. They sit No. 2 in the BCS standings thanks to wins over Texas A&M, then-No. 23 Tennessee and then-No. 4 LSU. Their favorable schedule continues this weekend as they get the Gamecocks at home.
Florida easily could have had a letdown after beating LSU on October 6th, but it would have none of it. The Gators went on the road and topped Vanderbilt 31-17 last Saturday to remain unbeaten on the season. Jeff Driskel sealed the game with a 70-yard touchdown run with 2:20 remaining.
Driskel finished 11 of 20 passing for 77 yards, but he was a terror with his feet, rushing for 177 yards and three scores. Mike Gillislee was held to 67 yards on 17 carries. The defense limited the Commodores to 363 total yards and forced a fumble in the win.
The Gators rank just 78th in total offense (378.3 yards/game), but they are 14th in rushing offense (233.3 yards/game). They have been winning behind a stop unit that ranks 13th in total defense (297.2 yards/game), giving up 107.5 yards on the ground and 189.7 through the air.
The Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) picked up a huge win over then-No. 5 Georgia 35-7 at home on October 6th. They could not pick up back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents as they would fall at then-No. 9 LSU 21-23 last Saturday.
South Carolina had its chances against the Tigers. It held a least for most of the game, including a 14-13 advantage with 10:17 to play. However, the Tigers would score 10 unanswered points over the next five minutes to go up 23-14. South Carolina got a meaningless touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington with 1:41 to go, but the onside kick attempt failed and the game was over.
LSU dominated this one aside from the final score as it outgained the Gamecocks 406-211 for the game. Connor Shaw went 19 of 34 passing for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Marcus Lattimore was held to 35 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. South Carolina only managed 34 yards on 25 rushing attempts as a team.
The Gamecocks are tied with the Gators at 78th in total offense (378.3 yards/game), but they do it behind a more balanced attack. They average 160.4 yards on the ground and 217.9 through the air. They are also 12th in total defense (296.3 yards/game), so this is a very evenly matched contest on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Florida 20 – South Carolina 17
I believe oddsmakers have hit their mark on this one as the Gators will win by exactly a field goal. However, I do feel there is some value in the UNDER 42 points in this one. These are two of the best defenses in the land up against two sub-par offenses. Points will be hard to come by, and if there’s no defensive or special teams touchdowns, then there’s no question this one will stay UNDER the posted total in my mind.