College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Side to Bet for Kentucky vs. South Carolina (Saturday, September 25)

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: The Side to Bet for Kentucky vs. South Carolina (Saturday, September 25) article feature image
Credit:

Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Levis.

Kentucky vs. South Carolina Odds

Kentucky Odds -4.5 (-115)
South Carolina Odds +4.5 (-105)
Moneyline -210 / +175
Over/Under 50 (+100 / -120)
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN2
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Kentucky nearly became one of the most recent FBS teams to lose to an FCS school in Week 3, as it trailed Chattanooga 16-14 in the fourth quarter before ultimately prevailing with a five-point win.

Big Blue Nation will hope it was just a let-down game after a big win the week before over Missouri. The 3-0 Wildcats will now head to Williams-Brice Stadium for their second SEC game of the season.

South Carolina took its first lumps of the season last week, losing 40-13 to Georgia in the 2021 debut of quarterback Luke Doty.

This week’s matchup will likely come down to which offense can more closely resemble its form from the first two weeks of the season.

So, which one is more likely to do so? Let’s find out.


Kentucky vs. South Carolina Betting Preview

Saturday, Sept. 25
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2

Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky Offense

After celebrating new-found success in new offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s scheme that preached balance, the offense took a major step back last week.

Kentucky went from averaging over 500 yards of offense in its first two games and a near-perfect 50/50 run/pass split to just 363 yards of offense and 35 pass plays to 27 rushes.

Coen admitted to letting his foot off the gas after an emotional and physical game against Missouri, opting to throw the ball more often in an effort to limit the mileage on running back Chris Rodriguez Jr.

The Wildcats rushed for 340 yards and 6.5 yards per carry against the Tigers, but only had 102 yards on 3.8 yards a carry against Chattanooga.

A return to earlier-season form will mean dialing up more of Rodriguez, which in turn opens everything up for Will Levis & Co. to cook through the air.

Levis is dangerous on play-action for an offense that ranks 11th in Pass Success with home-run hitters like Wan’Dale Robinson and Josh Ali at the receiver positions.


Kentucky Defense

In the only game against Power-Five competition that Kentucky has played this season, the Wildcats’ defense allowed 401 yards and four passing touchdowns.

South Carolina doesn’t have the same level of quarterback play as Missouri, though, and will be much more dependant on the run.

The Wildcats are pretty middle-of-the-pack on the defensive side of the ball — ranking 57th and 70th in Rush and Pass Success, respectively — but the front seven does a fairly good job of making the running back work for his yards, ranking 36th in Line Yards.

South Carolina has a mediocre offensive line, so the Wildcats should be able to both slow Kevin Harris on the ground and prevent Doty from getting too comfortable in just his second start of the year.

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South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina Offense

A 40-13 whooping at Georgia was just that, but not much else can be expected against arguably the best team in the country.

The 13 points seems to be a bit of a theme in Doty’s starts. In four career starts for the Gamecocks dating back to last season, South Carolina has averaged just 14.25 points.

Averaging just 358 yards per game this season, South Carolina ranks 91st in the country, with neither the run game nor pass game serving as a point of strength.

South Carolina’s Rush Success ranks just 94th and last week, the reigning SEC rushing champion, Harris, mustered just 31 yards on 16 carries. After averaging 6.2 yards a carry in 2020, Harris is down to just 2.2 this season as he returns to health from offseason back surgery.

Passing the ball, South Carolina fares even worse, ranking just 99th in Pass Success (only 208 yards per game). The Gamecocks average 2.33 sacks allowed per game, tied for 83rd in the nation.


South Carolina Defense

This unit is tasked with keeping games close. For the most part, it does a good job of limiting opponents’ damage, last week notwithstanding.

The Gamecocks know they must eliminate Rodriguez and make Kentucky one-dimensional. Their Defensive Rush Success ranks 30th, but Georgia was able to get off for 184 yards on the ground.

South Carolina’s defense is excellent at Finishing Drives, something that Kentucky’s offense also excels at.

With a Gamecocks’ offense that can be pretty inept at scoring, holding the Wildcats to field goals or creating turnovers in the red zone will obviously be huge.

Kentucky has been a bit reckless with the ball this season, turning it over eight times, including three times against Chattanooga.


Kentucky vs. South Carolina Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kentucky and South Carolina match up statistically:

Kentucky Offense vs. South Carolina Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
45
30
Line Yards
33
71
Pass Success
11
85
Pass Blocking**
22
5
Big Play
93
65
Havoc
104
63
Finishing Drives
13
5
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

South Carolina Offense vs. Kentucky Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
94
57
Line Yards
108
36
Pass Success
99
70
Pass Blocking**
118
86
Big Play
45
15
Havoc
85
45
Finishing Drives
105
78
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
35
97
PFF Coverage
23
11
Middle 8
75
73
SP+ Special Teams
70
30
Plays per Minute
93
104
Rush Rate
56.8% (57)
60.% (39)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Kentucky vs. South Carolina Betting Pick

Kentucky’s Week 3 effort definitely cooled bettors off the Wildcats, but I think that’s to our value in this game.

There’s no reason to believe what happened with the offense against Chattanooga will happen again, as we saw what it was capable of against a better SEC opponent in Missouri.

When Coen is calling a balanced game plan, the Wildcats’ offense is one of the more fun units to watch in college football — something that hasn’t been said in a long time about Kentucky.

The only pause that gives me worry is Kentucky’s problem with turnovers. Its -6 turnover margin is the second-worst in the country. It doesn’t matter how fun the offense is if it can’t hold onto the ball.

With that said, I think the best play is on the spread, rather than playing the total and worrying about Kentucky sustaining a seven-minute drive only to turn it over in the red zone.

If Kentucky is clicking, I don’t think this game will be decided by less than a touchdown. I’m under the impression Kentucky’s offense will be closer to clicking than not.

Swallow the points.

Pick: Kentucky -4.5

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