South Carolina has won all five of its Thursday season openers under eighth-year head coach Steve Spurrier, but they will face a stiff test in their 2012 college football season opener against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.
The Gamecocks are seven-point road favorites in the college football betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), while the total sits at 46 in the marketplace.
Spurrier has been known to land in the victory column when kicking off a new season during his collegiate career, posting a 21-1 record in that situation, including a 56-37 win over the East Carolina Pirates as 21-point neutral-site favorites a year ago.
Quarterback Connor Shaw was replaced by Stephen Garcia after completing just 3-of-9 in that particular contest, but regained the starting nod later in the year. He finished the 2011 campaign with 1,448 passing and 525 rushing yards.
Sports bettors may be cautious in laying this number due to Gamecocks star running back Marcus Lattimore coming back from a season-ending knee injury that occurred in the team’s seventh game, but he did score twice in last year’s 21-3 win over the Commodores as 14.5-point home favorites.
Vanderbilt finished its first year under head coach James Franklin with a losing 6-7 record, but opened up with three victories, including a 30-7 win over the Mississippi Rebels as 2.5-point home underdogs in its Southeastern Conference opener on September 17.
The Commodores welcome back 18 starters, including senior running back Zac Stacy, who helped the program score its most points (323) since the 1948 squad. He ultimately set the school’s single-season rushing record by gaining 1,136 yards on the ground.
From a betting perspective, I believe the host will gain more than the 77 total yards it finished with inside Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia in 2011, but Spurrier’s experience in getting his team ready in this type of situation will be the difference.
Pick: South Carolina Gamecocks -7