South Carolina vs. Kentucky Odds & Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s SEC Showdown
Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Kentucky)
- The South Carolina Gamecocks head to Lexington on Saturday to face the Kentucky Wildcats.
- Much of this game's analysis depends on the status of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who is a game-time decision.
- Check out Cody Goggin's full betting guide and pick for this SEC game below.
South Carolina vs. Kentucky Odds
Kentucky has been one of the best stories in college football the last few seasons with Mark Stoops establishing the Wildcats as a contender in the SEC East.
This now may be the best defense he has had in his time there, and the team has its eyes set on another New Year's Six bowl berth.
Shane Beamer had a surprisingly successful first season in Columbia and is looking to take that a step further in 2022.
So far, South Carolina's season has gone about as expected — 3-2 with losses to two tough conference opponents. However, a win on the road against a good Kentucky team would be a huge one for this program.
South Carolina’s offense has not had much success this year, but it has played well in its past couple of games against weaker opponents.
Overall, the Gamecocks rank 105th in Offensive Success Rate, coming in at 113th through the air and 58th on the ground.
Hopes were high this season for South Carolina following a Duke’s Mayo Bowl win last season and the arrival of Spencer Rattler from Oklahoma. The former five-star quarterback has struggled so far, though, throwing for only two touchdown passes and posting a -0.21 EPA/play.
The last time the Gamecocks played a top-10 defense in Georgia, they had zero answers and scored only seven points with a 26th-percentile Success Rate.
None of the other FBS defenses that the Gamecocks have faced this year rank in the top 50 of SP+. Outside of the Arkansas game, in these other matchups, they were able to play from ahead and utilize their rushing game, which has been much more effective than their passing game.
If South Carolina wants to have a good day against this Kentucky defense, the key will be keeping this game in a neutral script or playing with a lead while it's able to run the ball more often.
Falling behind against the Wildcats may prove to be detrimental to the Gamecocks' hopes of winning.
The South Carolina defense has also struggled when facing good opponents this year. Both Arkansas and Georgia had their ways with this unit, posting 93rd- and 99th-percentile Offensive Success Rates, respectively.
While Kentucky’s offense isn’t on the level of these two, it's still better than the other offenses that the Gamecocks have faced in Georgia State, Charlotte and South Carolina State.
This season, South Carolina ranks 120th in Defensive Success Rate. It's 92nd against the pass and 125th versus the run.
SP+ believe that the Gamecocks are better than this, placing them as the 47th-best defense in the country.
While Kentucky’s offense has been up and down this season, this defense certainly won’t fully shut the 'Cats down.
This Kentucky offense hasn’t been outstanding this year, but paired with its elite defense, it's had more than enough to get by most games.
Right now, Kentucky sits at 4-1 and is ranked 15th in the country by SP+. The Wildcats' offense is ranked 38th, but so far has just the 83rd-best Offensive Success Rate.
Quarterback Will Levis is the star of this offense. The former Penn State transfer has been generating NFL buzz for the past year with his combination of passing and athletic ability.
Due in large part to Levis, Kentucky’s aerial attack has been the best part of its offense thus far. Currently, the Wildcats rank 35th in Passing Success Rate, but just 124th in Rushing Success Rate.
The only game in which Kentucky hasn’t had an above-average Success Rate was against Florida, where it was still able to win 26-16.
Last weekend, the Wildcats found themselves on the wrong end of my Misleading Box Scores column. They fell 22-19 to Ole Miss, but turned it over on the last three drives of the game, all deep in Rebels' territory.
This week, the Wildcats shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring. The weakness of South Carolina’s defense — the running game — may help boost Kentucky’s ability to run the ball and put this game away.
This Kentucky defense has legitimately been one of the best in the nation so far this season. It ranks first in Defensive Success Rate, first in Defensive Passing Success Rate and sixth in Rushing Success Rate on defense.
SP+ has this as the seventh-best unit in college football, and it has certainly lived up to this billing.
Last week, the Wildcats held Ole Miss’ offense — which is ranked 14th — to a 44th-percentile Success Rate. They also held Florida’s 23rd-ranked offense to a second-percentile Success Rate.
They didn’t do quite as well against Miami (OH) or NIU, but these games were still fully in their control, and they haven’t allowed more than 23 points in a game this season.
South Carolina vs. Kentucky Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how South Carolina and Kentucky match up statistically:
South Carolina Offense vs. Kentucky Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Kentucky Offense vs. South Carolina Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||2||27|
|Seconds per Play||26.6 (70)||32.7 (131)|
|Rush Rate||49.4% (90)||55.0% (58)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
South Carolina vs. Kentucky Betting Pick
I found myself not fully believing in Kentucky this season until I saw what it did last weekend. The Wildcats were impressive enough on the road against Ole Miss that I now believe that they belong in the second-tier of teams in the SEC.
This Wildcats defense is one of the best in the country, and I don’t have any faith in Rattler being able to handle the unit.
If the South Carolina defense were better, I may have considered the under. However, Kentucky is 4-1 ATS this season, and I think that it will be able to take care of business at Kroger Field on Saturday night.