South Carolina-Coastal Carolina Betting Preview: Gamecocks Struggle as Favorites

South Carolina-Coastal Carolina Betting Preview: Gamecocks Struggle as Favorites article feature image
Credit:

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Will Muschamp

South Carolina-Coastal Carolina Betting

  • Spread: South Carolina -29.5
  • Total: 57
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET on Saturday
  • TV channel: SEC Network

Expectations are high in Columbia this year. After returning a lot of production and several potential stars in 2017, South Carolina made some noise, finishing 8-4 in the regular season and rallying to beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl.

The Gamecocks head into 2018 with a budding star at quarterback in Jake Bentley and a starting running back and wide receiver who each were expected to do big things last year before suffering injuries.

 

This is Will Muschamp’s third year as coach, so the program is now heavily populated with “his” guys.

You’ve heard all of these talking points all summer, no doubt. The Gamecocks have buzz. They’re facing one of the worst teams in all of FBS in 2017. It seems like a slam dunk.

So when I tell you I’m taking Coastal Carolina, your face will most likely feature a mix of confusion and eye-rolling.

Allow me to explain.

Muschamp is actually one of the ultimate “nobody believes in us” head coaches in college football. Not only do his teams frequently cover as underdogs, but they win those games outright.

At Florida, his Gators defeated Georgia outright as an 11.5-point underdog, and defeated Florida State twice, each time as a touchdown underdog.

Last regular season, his Gamecocks were 6-1 ATS as an underdog, winning four outright, then went and beat Michigan outright as an 8-point dog in the bowl game. What a run.

But when Muschamp plays the heavy favorite, against competition he should absolutely dominate? Not so good. Here’s a brief history of his games as a favorite of 20 points or more at South Carolina:

Oct. 22, 2016: The Gamecocks are 20-point favorites at home against UMass, leading 34-14 entering the 4th quarter, when the offense goes ultra-conservative. Andrew Ford (yes, the same one still playing for the Minutemen) leads two touchdown drives to cut it to 34-28, but he never gets the ball back to go for the win.  South Carolina hangs on.

Nov. 19, 2016: With Clemson on deck, the Gamecocks (favored by 30.5!) struggle to put away Western Carolina, allowing 236 rushing yards before eventually winning 44-31. This was a 10-point game with about 9 minutes to play.

Nov. 18, 2017: With Clemson on deck yet again, South Carolina (favored by 27) faced Wofford’s option attack, and led only 21-10 entering the fourth quarter before putting the game away, winning 31-10.  The game was close throughout despite Wofford being -3 in turnover margin.

That’s it. That’s the history.

So although South Carolina hired a new offensive coordinator this year to try to speed things up (a very un-Muschamp thing to do, that I’ll believe when I see it), the team does not generally fare well when expectations are high.

Add in the fact that this particular South Carolina team is 119th in the country in returning defensive production, and will be breaking in a lot of new faces, and expectations for a massive blowout where the Gamecocks run and hide should be tempered dramatically.

 

South Carolina’s opponent, Coastal Carolina, is intriguing in this spot because we as bettors have very little idea what to expect. The team played its first season in FBS last year, but their coach, Joe Moglia, missed the whole year while undergoing treatment for a fungal infection in his lungs.

All of the poor metrics Coastal registered in his absence (as well as the 52-10 loss to Western Illinois in Week 3) need to be viewed through the appropriate prism. Despite not having their coach, the Chanticleers lost by seven at UAB (which we found out later was actually pretty good), and almost won at Arkansas, losing 39-38.

The Chanticleers’ metrics from last year wouldn’t immediately signal that they can hang for a long time in this game, but I think with all of the fawning over South Carolina after last season — and a lack of awareness of the spot Coastal Carolina was put in — Moglia’s squad is a very sneaky huge underdog in this spot and has already shown the ability to hang with some more talented teams.

Maybe Muschamp gets tired of hearing about these sloppy FCS efforts, but with Georgia on deck next week, my guess is his attention is focused elsewhere.

The Bet: Coastal Carolina +29.5