The South Carolina Gamecocks, ranked No. 9 in both of the major preseason polls, waste no time beginning their SEC season. They start off with a season-opening conference game against the Vanderbilt Commodores Thursday night in Nashville (7 p.m. EST, ESPN).
As of Tuesday afternoon, most sports books tracked by OddsShark.com were listing South Carolina as 6.5-point favorites with an over/under of 45 total points.
And many fans were backing the top 10 status of Steve Spurrier's team, with nearly 65 percent of the consensus action on South Carolina as of Wednesday. Vandy might have something to say about that if recent history repeats itself—they were 3-0 against the spread (ATS) last year as a home underdog.
South Carolina returns 11 starters from a team that went 11-2 last year, 6-2 in SEC play and beat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. Among the returnees are QB Connor Shaw and RB Marcus Lattimore, but only five are back on the defense that ranked No. 3 overall in the country last year.
On the other side of this matchup, the Commodores get back 15 starters from a team that went 6-7 last year, only 2-6 in the SEC and lost the Liberty Bowl to Cincinnati. Among the returnees are a senior QB in Aaron Rodgers' younger brother Jordan, a 1,200-yard rusher in Zac Stacy, three along the offensive line and seven on the defensive line.
"South Carolina has won three straight in this series and beat the Commodores 21-3 in 2011, outgaining Vandy 367-77," football handicapping analyst Jack Randall said in an interview.
South Carolina covered as 15-point home favorites, and the game played way under its total of 49.
In fact, the last three games in this series have all played under the totals.
The Gamecocks are also listed at around -270 on the money line at various college football betting outlets, with Vandy getting around +230 to win this game outright. The spread had moved to -7 at Bovada earlier Wednesday.
Pick: We'll go with a top 10 team giving less than a touchdown and take South Carolina. Big home dogs have not been a good bet in recent years.