Category Archives: South Carolina Gamecocks
I can’t quit you. Let’s do this.
All lines via Caesars Palace accessed Via OddsShark.com Monday AM.
North Carolina vs. South Carolina (Thursday, 6 P.M., ESPN)
People talk about the “Battle of Carolinas” as if anyone cares. Within the context of college football there isn’t a “Carolina.” There are just two states who house multiple football programs none of which deserve to claim an entire region as its own. With that out of the way, this game could be wildly entertaining. Carolina comes in with what should be a prolific offensive attack and a former national champion at DC. Yes, Gene Chizik won a national championship. Theoretically that balance could really threaten Carolina, but let’s not forget that Carolina is still Carolina relative to Carolina and the last time Carolina played Carolina in a season opener, things got out of hand relatively quickly on a Thursday night opener. And apparently Steve Spurrier isn’t a day older than he was this time last year, mathematics be damned!
My Pick: South Carolina -3
Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt (Thursday, 8 P.M., ESPN)
For my money, this is one of only four potentially winnable games for Vanderbilt (along with Austin Peay, MTSU and Houston), and I’d be stunned if the Commies won on the road against both Middle Tennessee and Houston. That bleak lack of optimism for a team that is just one full season (and one head coach) removed from knocking on the door of 10 wins is exacerbated by the fact that I’d be stunned to see Vanderbilt cover the opening spread on this. Sure, the outcome should never be in doubt, but to expect the Hilltoppers to lose by 17.5 (the opening line) means you need to expect Vanderbilt to score at least 18 points. And it’s unreasonably to think Western Kentucky can’t puke up at least 3 points on accident. So with a coverage need of at least 21 points scored, who likes Vandy? Context: Vanderbilt scored more than 21 points just twice against FBS opposition last season (34 against UMass and 34 vs. South Carolina…all the LOLz). Oh but you want to know what’s a really, really, really bad thing for Vanderbilt? The 17.5 line referenced here was the opening line from OddsShark. This sucker has moved all the way to Western Kentucky -1.5 at Caesars. Damnation. Nobody likes you Vanderbilt. And nobody’s asking for your permission to dislike you either! But Vandy can cover that.
My Pick: Vanderbilt +1.5
Louisiana Monroe at #9 Georgia (Saturday, 12 P.M., SEC Network)
One could make a strong case for Louisiana Monroe joining the SEC. And I’m not kidding here. Last year, LA Mo went 0-3 in SEC play, but none of the last three teams to go all-defeated in the conference play (2013 Arkansas, 2013 Kentucky, 2014 Vanderbilt) fired their coaches. Further, a 31-0 loss at LSU wasn’t any worse than the 41-3 thrashing the Tigers put on Kentucky at home. LA Mo lost 48-14 to Kentucky, but Kentucky is a program on the rise (as evidenced by Mark Stoops $3 milly+/year extension). And Funroe lost to Texas A&M by just five points last season. South Carolina and Arkansas lost by wider margins to the Aggies. And don’t forget, this is the same Warhawks program that beat Arkansas to open the 2012 season before taking Auburn to OT. Also of note: Georgia should be much better than UL-M this season. But 35 points better when two QBs are getting attention and Chubb is spending some time on the sideline? Not taking that.
My Pick: Louisiana Monroe +35
Tennessee-Martin at #17 Ole Miss (Saturday, 12 P.M., SEC Network)
Serious question: which game is the SEC Network going to show at noon? Because if it’s the shitty-ass Ole Miss team that opens the season ranked lower than Georgia (17th) and closed last year with losses to Auburn (Georgia destroyed Auburn), Arkansas (Georgia destroyed Arkansas) and a 39-point loss in a Bowl “game” to TCU, we’re gonna have issues. Yes, Ole Miss is talented, but depth is still something of an issue there until proven otherwise and people seem to be so wrapped up with righteous indignation about a “too low ranking” because the Rebels are recruiting like an SEC program that they’ve forgotten that a handful of programs are recruiting at an SEC level. The major difference: some programs are recruiting at an SEC level and not closing the season with a 1-4 record vs FBS opposition while being outscored 148-58.
No line for this game.
UTEP at #18 Arkansas (Saturday, 3:30 P.M., ESPNU)
The Razorbacks are favored by 33 points. That’s insane. So insane that I like it. Remember the dump I just took on Ole Miss a few moments ago? Well Arkansas was one of the programs that dismantled the Rebels down the stretch last year. Contrast how OM folded to what Arky did:
- Defeated UAB 45-17
- Lost on the road vs. (then No.1) Miss State by 7
- Defeated #17 LSU in a shutout
- Defeated #8 Ole Miss 30-0
- Lost on the road to SEC East Champ Mizzou by 7
- Defeated Texas in Bowl Game by 24 points.
Arkansas will roll in this contest.
My pick: Arkansas -33
Louisville vs. #6 Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 P.M., CBS)
Are we all totally sold out for Auburn? I’m not saying I’m not, but I’m asking for a friend. Nick Marshall was no scrub and it seems like we’re devaluing his 6,425 yards of offense and 57 TDs over the past two seasons awfully quickly. And sure, he was a perfect fit for Malzahn’s system, but being a system QB doesn’t mean anyone on the roster can be a system QB. And Jeremy Johnson has looked fantastic at times, but the dude has run for 40 yards on 11 career carries. At the very least he’s a different style of QB than Marshall which should make the offense a tidbit easier to defend. And I know we’re all convinced that Muschamp is the “greatest defensive mind in the whole wide world,” but the last time he was a DC (2010 at Texas), his squad ranked 49th in scoring defense. Oh, and Auburn’s defense has been unintentionally hilarious for the past few years even with a stupid amount of talent. Over the past four seasons, Auburn has allowed an average of 41.125 points per game to its two biggest rivals (Alabama and Georgia). Don’t get me wrong, I think Auburn is good. But again, this is a team that lost its final four FBS games and was 13 combined points away (theoretically negating a four point win vs. Ole Miss and a seven point win vs. South Carolina) from finishing the season with a 7-game FBS losing streak. This team lost five games down the stretch and lost its best offensive weapon since Cam Newton to the Draft. Does Muschamp change that? And then there’s Louisville. I don’t know why and maybe it’s because Josh Harvey-Clemons is there, but I’m high on the Cardinals.
My pick: Louisville +10.5 points
Southeast Missouri State vs. #24 Missouri (Saturday, 4 P.M., SEC Network)
I never felt like Missouri was in the Southeast or belongs in the Southeaster Conference, but apparently Mizzou is a Southeast State (at least according to Southeast Missouri State). That’s all.
No line for this game.
Bowling Green at #25 Tennessee (4 P.M., SEC Network)
Brick by Brick, baby! I’m not even being sarcastic about Tennessee’s rebuilding job when I say that I fully expect the Volunteers to win this football game. The Vols are back baby! #VFL #VawlSoHard #BrickbyBrick #ButchJones2016 #ButtchugOrDieTryin
My pick: Tennessee -20.5
#15 Arizona State at Texas A&M (Saturday, 7 P.M., ESPN)
This is the part of the day when I’ll pull my brisket off the BGE, switch from beer to bourbon and wait. And I’m legitimately excited about these night games for a handful of reasons. So, I’m switching gears and giving three things to watch in each of these contests:
- Arizona State’s Uniforms: These sumbitches should be fire. How’s that for analysis?
- Texas A&M’s Defense: Don’t tell Auburn I said this or I’ll draw the first “Butthurt” insult of the year, but John Chavis is a better defensive mind than Will Muschamp. He also looks like he should own a pizzeria.
- SEC! Chants: They will happen as the nation’s best conference swings its manhood for the first time this season and pulls off an upset (at least in the rankings).
My pick: Texas A&M -3
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kentucky (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
- Does Kentucky’s offense justify Mark Stoops earning $18.75 million between now and the end of the 2019 season?
- Does Kentucky’s defense justify Mark Stoops earning $18.75 million between now and the end of the 2019 season?
- Does Kentucky’s special teams justify Mark Stoops earning $18.75 million between now and the end of the 2019 season?
Back story: Stoops signed an extension in October of last year that will yield the following salaries at Kentucky:
- 2015: $3.25 million
- 2016: $3.5 million
- 2017: 3.75 million
- 2018: $4 million
- 2019: $4.25 million
The extension (which bumped his pay to an even $3 million last season) came on the early side of a six-game losing streak as Kentucky turned a 5-1 start into another bowl-less season. Since he arrived in Lexington, Kentucky is 7-17 overall and 2-14 in SEC play. In the two seasons preceding his arrival, former head coach Joker Phillips was 7-17 overall and 2-14 in SEC play. So non-progress is being rewarded quite handsomely. That’s so damn southern.
My pick: Louisiana-Lafayette +17
McNeese State at #14 LSU (Saturday, 7:30 P.M., SEC Network)
- Les Miles checked into the hospital on Monday. For his sake and for the sake of the game, let’s hope we can watch him at full speed on the sidelines.
- Leonard Fournette is going to run for 300 yards. That just seems like a possibility.
- You’re playing QB1 for LSU. Seriously, do you want to?
No line for this game.
New Mexico State at Florida (Saturday, 7:30 P.M., SEC Network)
- Let’s pay close attention to @NMStateFootball on Twitter. I mean that’s gold right there.
- New Mexico State ain’t afraid to give up some points. Is Florida still afraid to score ’em?
- Seriously, Florida has to score 40 in Jim McElwain’s debut right?
My pick: New Mexico State +37
#20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama (Saturday, 8:00 P.M., ABC)
- For the first time since 2009 Wisconsin doesn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher on its roster. Corey Clement ran for 949 last year, but can he be “the man” this year the way Melvin Gordon, James White and Montee Ball have been the past few years?
- Also absent from Wisconsin: running backs coach Thomas Brown. He’s at Georgia. Seriously, this run game could take a step back. Or not.
- The QB race with Bama is the sexy offensive topic, but I want to see pace. How fast is Lane Kiffin prepared to move?
My Pick: Alabama -10
Mississippi State at Southern Mississippi (Saturday, 10 P.M., FoxSports1)
- Know how I know Miss. State’s success in 2014 wasn’t sustainable? The Bulldogs open at Southern Mississippi at 10 PM on damn FoxSports 1.
- Per my admittedly quick scan, Southern Miss hasn’t defeated a Power 5 opponent since a 31-16 win over Kansas on September 17, 2010. It would be hilarious if it happened against Miss State.
- Did this Miss State team fall back to reality hella fast or are we all wrong? I mean think about it: On November 28 of last year this team was 11-1, recently ranked first and holding a single loss at the hands of perennial contender Alabama on the road. A road loss to a ranked rival and a ranked opponent in a meaningless bowl game later and this team isn’t even ranked in preseason despite a Heisman candidate at QB.
My pick: Southern Miss +21
That’s all I got/
Sweet Hosanna! Here’s hoping those with significant others have accomplished all of their husbandly/boyfriendly duties in preparation for this weekend, because it’s time for some college football!
The proliferation of neutral-site games has really gone a long way towards making Week 1 extremely watchable. Though the schedules normally hit a little bit of a lull the following weeks before conference play, we get a chance to establish new stars (Kenny Hill, anyone? …Oh. Oops.) and strong units (Ole Miss’ D) against solid competition before the FCS exhibitions and Vanderbilts of the world.
North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 6pm, ESPN: For the second time in three years, my alma mater opens with my least favorite SEC team, albeit this time in Charlotte and against a Cock team not expected to contend for the SEC title. Logical to assume that my nerves and energy are shot by about noon on the 3rd. It’s the first game of the season. Enough said.
#2 TCU at Minnesota, 9pm, ESPN: I’m not as high on TCU as most, but Gary Patterson’s defenses have always been a joy to watch. And that Trevone Boykin guy is pretty good. Turns out, Minnesota isn’t TERRIBLE, either. Let’s see how the Horned Frogs do after last year’s CFP snub and with the targets on their back.
See also: Alcorn State at #16 Georgia Tech is in Atlanta at 7:30 on ESPN3 for those interested. Most notably, friend of the podcast Patrick Dron. Also, Michigan at Utah on FS1 at 8:30, where we should all cheer for the Utes in order to avoid the “IS JIM HARBAUGH BETTER THAN JESUS” talks on the Worldwide Leader this week.
FRIDAY: WEIRD IN-STATE ROAD GAMES FOR TOP-5 TEAMS
A couple of “I didn’t read the iTunes terms and conditions” games here.
#5 Michigan State at Western Michigan, 7, ESPNU: I love the hype around some B1G QB’s, notably Sparty’s Connor Cook and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. A lot of “they have the tools to be top-10 picks” without the production to show for it.
#4 Baylor at SMU, 7, ESPN: Speaking of QB’s, Baylor’s Seth Russell can probably get a free trip to New York by being an average one this year at Baylor. Oh, and SMU is playing its first game under former Clemson OC Chad Morris. Queue the fireworks.
Washington at #23 Boise State, 9:45, ESPN: Another power-5 team on the road, but this one should lose. A lot of interesting things happening here– Chris Petersen’s return to Boise, the Pac-12’s return to Boise, where weird things happen.
SATURDAY: ENJOY GEORGIA AS AN APP, THEN GET READY FOR THE FEAST
The Dawgs are on the SEC Network vs. ULM at noon. Set your DVRs accordingly. Other games of interest for the noon slate:
The main dish is Louisville vs. #6 Auburn from Atlanta at 3:30 on CBS (Welcome back, Verne and Gary!). Storylines include: Bobby Petrino’s return to the Georgia Dome, JHC and Shaq “I need someone to let me be myself” Wiggins’ debuts for UL, Tray Matthews’ debut for Auburn…hell, let’s just call this the “Georgia Dismissal Bowl”.
For breaks in the action, I’m going to keep an eye on Virginia at #13 UCLA (3:30, FOX), because UVA’s D is sneaky good and going against a true freshman quarterback. UCLA, as a top-1o team last year, won at Virginia by eight. Additionally, we have Nice-Guy-Mike-Riley-Replacing-Jerk-Bo-Pelini’s debut at Nebraska, as BYU at Nebraska is on ABC at 3:30.
Both #25 Tennessee and #24 Mizzou open their runs at the SEC East at 4, both on the SEC Network, both in easy wins.
Evening, where there are three imminently watchable games:
Herein lies the strength of week 1.
#15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M, 7, ESPN, from Houston: Probably the game where I have no dogs in the fight that I’m most excited to see. A&M can solidify itself as either a darkhorse or a week 1 overachiever, and ASU is my pick to win the Pac-12 South.
Texas at #11 Notre Dame, 7:30, NBC: Chances are, you DESPISE one (or both) of these teams. Schadenfruede accordingly.
#20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama, from Dallas: This…could be problematic for a confusing Wisconsin team. However, a win means they’re 2-0 in 2015. Their wins? Auburn and Alabama. I so badly want to tweet something with the hashtag #WisconsinownsthestateofAlabama. Go Badgers. Go cheese.
Happy last Friday before football starts!
A few updates from the SEC quarterback races, no real surprises.
South Carolina: Connor Mitch, of six career pass attempts, has been named the starter for next Thursday’s bout with UNC. Also, someone in COLA is pretending to be him at bars.
Texas A&M: Sophomore Kyle Allen, unsurprisingly, has been named the starter. True freshman Kyler Murray will definitely see action, though.
LSU: No real news, but I heard on XM that Brandon Harris is ‘trending slightly ahead’ of Anthony Jennings. Harris looked good in mop-up duty in the near-comeback against Mississippi State last year, but the rest of his freshman season was pretty much a wash.
Florida: No real news, but both Will Grier and Treon Harris will see snaps against New Mexico State.
Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia: All quiet on the Western (and Eastern) fronts.
In other news…
Speaking of Florida, who broke spring ball with SIX scholarship offensive linemen, freshman stud tackle Martez Ivey is getting his knee scoped and is expected to miss about half of the season. Definitely hurts their chance to gain early momentum early in SEC play, where their longstanding winning streaks against Kentucky (28 games) and Tennessee (10) are on the line.
And really, that’s it. I’m ready for some damn football.
Eight. Days. Until. Football.
This survey is an absolute travesty, and WordPress is not being very helpful in the formatting department. Apologies for both in advance. Many thanks to the staff for taking the time to save you from it being just me talking about the season, yet again.
Today is Georgia questions, tomorrow is on the national scale.
Comment with your own answers below!
Chad Floyd: 11 regular season wins and (obviously) win the SEC East. The crossover opponents are tough, but this team is head and shoulders above the rest of the division. Split with the Alabama schools, beat everyone else, and go to Atlanta with a playoff bid on the line.
Daniel Palmer: Success for Georgia to me is less a reflection on wins and losses, and more what we see out of this team week to week. A hallmark of the 2014 season was marked improvement week to week in each phase of the game, but there were monumental setbacks (Florida, GT). What I want this year is consistent growth as a team; they keep from backsliding and making the same mistakes, and wins and losses will take care of themselves.
Jason Smith: Beating Florida.
Andrew Hall: A loss to Bama is all but expected. Beyond that missing out on winning the East is outright failure.Chad Floyd: Anything short of a playoff/’Group of Six’ bowl appearance.
Daniel Palmer: If the narrative for this season devolves into “if they only found a quarterback”, then you’ll know we are in trouble. There’s too much optimism around this team for the man under center to define 2015 in a negative light. Once we fall back to quarterback excuses, then EVERYTHING has fallen off the rails and we’re in full rebuild mode.
Jason Smith: Losing to Tech.
Andrew Hall: 10-2 regular season. SECCG Loss, Bowl Win…so 11-3 depending on how you do this.
Chad Floyd: 11-1. Everything postseason is a toss-up.
Daniel Palmer: 10-2
Jason Smith: 10-2
Andrew Hall: Missouri. It always inexplicable to lose to Mizzou. After Tennessee and Bama comes the let down game
Chad Floyd: (I don’t find Tennessee inexplicable). South Carolina. An easy September slate means we have to stub our toe somewhere, right?
Daniel Palmer: God help me, Tennessee.
Jason Smith: The answer to this question is ALWAYS South Carolina.
Andrew Hall: On offense let’s look at Jay Rome to have a big year. I love Blaze as much as the next guy (assuming the next guy isn’t Daniel Palmer), but Rome is getting lots of 1st Team reps for a reason and is more athletic. (Editor’s note: There was no pick for the defense.)
Chad Floyd: Offense: Brice Ramsey. Defense: Jake Ganus (the UAB transfer LB).
Daniel Palmer: Offense: Jeb Blaze. Defense: Pick a DB every week.
Jason Smith: Offense: Terry Godwin. Defense: Trenton Thompson.
What’s the stupidest thing Special Teams will do?
Andrew Hall: Beyond at least one missed extra point and several chip shot field goals (which will happen), look for Georgia to attempt an onside kick early in a game in an attempt to capitalize on momentum and miss out. Then, a mediocre opponent offense gets the ball at mid-field and scores shortly before the half before receiving a 2nd half kickoff and scoring again.
Chad Floyd: Botched punt snap in the 4th quarter of a close game in one of our SEC on CBS appearances.
Daniel Palmer: Yes.
Jason Smith: Miss a seemingly chip shot field goal that means absolutely nothing at the moment but will end up costing us a game because our offense is having an off night.
What’s the game you will have to be most intoxicated to watch?
Andrew Hall: South Carolina. That’s always my answer. You can’t not be drunk for Georgia/South Carolina. Win was the last time Georgia won one of these games with any semblance of ease? 2014 was a loss, 2013 was close late, 2012/2011/2010 were losses, 2009 was a 4-pt win, 2008 was 14-7, 2007 was a loss, 2006 was an 18-0 win with unsteady freshman Matt Stafford, 2005 was a 2-point win, 2004 was a 4-point win. We’re talking 2003. Damn.
Chad Floyd: South Carolina/Auburn. I have too much local/social hate invested in both of them.
Daniel Palmer: As has become tradition, I will be watching the Florida game by myself in silence surrounded by whiskey and moonshine.
Jason Smith: The answer to this question is ALWAYS Florida.
With the aforementioned release of Bill Connelly (USA Today’s dropped this morning, too), there are enough comprehensive college football rankings to do some kind of analysis on them.
Now, let me reiterate: Connelly and Steele are my go-to prognosticators. Why? For one, their factors involve so much more data than the typical returning starters and previous year’s record. Steele has 9 analytical models he uses to produce his rankings, Connelly probably has even more (it doesn’t hurt that they’re both high on the Dawgs for 2015).
Another factor separating them from the national journalists is the fact that they evaluate teams on an “if X played Y” basis, to evaluate team strength. For example, both have Tennessee in their top 20. The thought process follows that the Vols may go 8-4 against this year’s schedule, but put them in the Big Ten or ACC and they may be a 10-2 or 11-1 team.
USA Today and CBSSports, on the other hand? Probably pure clickbait/conversation pieces. CBS especially, as it ranks all of four SEC teams in its top 25. I’m not the world’s foremost SEC apologist, but that’s patently absurd and no objective reader would disagree. Vanderbilt is hot garbage, but are they really only better than seven teams in the country? I highly doubt it.
Here is the chart I put together for the whole SEC, with their average rankings calculated by some furious Excel spreadsheeting:
So, on average, exactly half of the SEC is ranked in the top 25, and there are really no surprises: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Arkansas and Tennessee are obviously teams that have to prove it on the field, but their finishes made pundits more bullish on them than another high-potential team in Texas A&M.
I also used the data to see the average ranking of each team by each outlet. The key number here? Again, CBS as an outlier, with the SEC ranked almost 10 full spots below the other outlets, on average. Some real #Haterade there, they throw off what is otherwise a fairly good consensus ranking of each team.
Assuming, as a homer would, that CBS is therefore unreliable:
Of distinct note is two flip-flops in the rankings: Georgia vaults to second in the SEC, from an average ranking of 9th to somewhere in the ether between 6 and 7. And my thoughts on Florida are somewhat validated, as they move up 8 spots and jump South Carolina.
If you were curious, Georgia’s nonconference opponents rank as follows:
Tech, as they earned last year and with the return of Justin Thomas and a good bit of its defense, sits somewhere between LSU and Arkansas. Given wins over very strong Georgia and Mississippi State teams last year, that sounds about right to me. Georgia Southern had a GREAT season last year, and is seen, nationally, as Kentucky’s equal. Hopefully the opener against Monroe provides an opportunity to see all three quarterbacks, since that battle ain’t getting settled before September 5.
All told, the rankings of Georgia’s opponents go as follows:
South Carolina: 43.25
Georgia HAS to get out of September 4-0.
Again, note that Tennessee and Missouri are top-25 teams without CBS. Florida is a top-40 team, and well…they’re Florida.
Georgia Southern: 63.5
Given the difficulty of October and my bias towards two things: that we should never lose to Tech and I don’t think Auburn is THAT good, November needs to be another 4-0 month. The playoff committee loves them some teams on hot streaks.
Anyway, this is a lot of data to tackle, but a good place to continue your thoughts on the 2015 season. Any more numbers y’all want crunched? Any further takeaways that I missed in this skim? Shoot me a comment or a tweet @Chad_Floyd and I’ll get on it.