South Carolina vs. Georgia Betting Odds & Pick: Strong Defenses Meet in Week 3 SEC Clash (Saturday, Sept. 18)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Devonte Wyatt (95) celebrates with Jalen Carter.
South Carolina vs. Georgia Odds
|South Carolina Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Another year, another season of Georgia seemingly being this close to fielding a championship-worthy team as the Bulldogs kick off their SEC slate with a home tilt against South Carolina.
Kirby Smart's Bulldogs have reached the SEC championship game in three of his five seasons and look destined to win the SEC East yet again, but questions remain about the strength of the offense.
The Gamecocks enter this game feeling a bit like a knock-off Georgia team with a strong defensive core and an offense lacking a definitive identity. With a 31.5-point spread, though, are the Bulldogs getting too much love?
Year 1 of the Shane Beamer era is off to a 2-0 start, albeit the 20-17 win over East Carolina certainly was reason for heart palpitations in the Palmetto State.
The Gamecocks lack a stud quarterback or any real offensive weapons to be a viable SEC East contender, but their defense is nothing to sneeze at and will keep some of the top teams like Georgia from getting out too far ahead.
The only question from a betting perspective is if the defense is good enough to make South Carolina a valuable team against the spread.
The Zeb Noland story arc was just that — a great story — but Beamer said earlier this week that Luke Doty should be fully healthy and is expected to start in Athens.
Despite scoring 41 points in the season opener against Eastern Illinois, there isn't much to write home about with regards to the Gamecocks offense. South Carolina's Rushing and Passing Success come in at 72nd and 76th in the country, and that's with stats against an FCS and AAC team. Georgia might just have the best defense in the country.
Doty could be a little slow shaking off rust, something even Beamer copped to, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
But even at full strength, Doty only passed for 405 yards and two total touchdowns in two-and-a-half games of work last season, including going 18 of 22 for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception against these very Bulldogs.
South Carolina's ground game has also failed to launch. As a team, the Gamecocks only average a little more than 4.2 yards per carry, and the stable of backs led by ZaQuandre White has only scored a single rushing touchdown.
Finishing drives will be of the upmost importance this week against Georgia's defense. And while the Gamecocks only rank 41st in Finishing Drives, they've come away with points on all seven of their trips to the red zone.
South Carolina's offense is a bore, but its defense is what will keep this team in games throughout the season.
The usual Week 3 caveat holds true that the numbers are inflated based on inferior competition, but South Carolina's defensive line is allowing just 2.4 yards per carry and has gotten to the quarterback for seven sacks this season. Its Defensive Rushing Success and Havoc rank 16th and 20th, respectively.
The Gamecocks are also tied for first in Defensive Finishing Drives with Georgia, and, as mentioned earlier, an ability to end drives with seven vs. three points will be huge in what should prove to be a defensive battle.
Furthermore, while the Gamecocks do an excellent job defending a short field, they have also excelled at preventing explosive plays, something that the Bulldogs have struggled to create this season.
The Gamecocks are one of just three teams in the country (Cincinnati and Kentucky) to have only allowed two or fewer plays of 20 yards in length or more.
Is this the team to stop Alabama's championship run?
If Week 1's result against Clemson bears any significance, then perhaps it is — or at least the defense is of that caliber. Georgia enters its SEC opener 2-0 with a 10-3 win over the Tigers and a 56-7 win over UAB in Week 2.
The Bulldogs undoubtedly have one of the best groups on the defensive side of the ball, but will the offense hold them back from achieving their highest goals?
Georgia flashed a much better offense in Week 2 against UAB, although anything less would have been concerning after a 10-point effort against Clemson the week before.
Stetson Bennett filled in nicely for an injured JT Daniels, throwing four touchdowns on his first five pass attempts against the Dragons. Daniels, however, did take part in pregame warmups, and the expectation is that he will suit up against the Gamecocks.
Normally a run-first offense, the Bulldogs are yet to find much success on the ground. With a Rush Success ranking of 85th and a Line Yards ranking of 95th, Georgia is averaging only 4.1 yards per carry, the 11th best mark in the SEC.
Subtract the longest run from each of Georgia's top four ball carriers, and the Bulldogs only average 1.95 yards per carry — not great considering the strength of the South Carolina defense is its defensive line.
Georgia's receiving corps continues to get healthier, and the pass catchers finally broke for some big plays against UAB, with tight end Brock Bowers scoring on an 89-yard reception and Jermaine Burton scoring on a 73-yard catch.
This is a defense worthy of a national championship contender.
As one of only two defenses in the country yet to allow a touchdown (the other ironically being Clemson), Georgia's defense grades out first and fifth in PFF Tackling and Coverage.
It held DJ Uiagalelei to 178 yards on 4.8 yards per attempt and one interception while sacking the big man seven times. Clemson had two — two — total rushing yards.
Against UAB, Georgia forced three turnovers, recorded three sacks, and for the second straight week, scored a defensive touchdown.
There's really yet to be an area of weakness exposed so far, with maybe the most "suspect" area being the run defense.
Georgia ranks 46th in Line Yards Allowed and surrendered three rushing plays of greater than 10 yards in length against UAB (16, 12, 12), but it's nothing of great concern, and the Gamecocks don't have the weapons to present matchup difficulties.
It should be another banner day for Dan Lanning and Kirby Smart's defense.
South Carolina vs. Georgia Matchup Analysis
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South Carolina Offense vs. Georgia Defense
Georgia Offense vs. South Carolina Defense
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South Carolina vs. Georgia Betting Pick
If you haven't noticed a theme by now, this game projects to be a defensive slobberknocker with not much offense.
Mix in that both teams rank outside of the top 100 in Plays per Minute, and the Under 48 is sounding even more attractive.
Taking Georgia against the spread isn't a bad pick, but South Carolina's defense is legitimately solid, and until the Bulldogs can show me they're capable of scoring five touchdowns against an SEC team in 2021, I'm not going to bet on it.
There's a real chance that South Carolina is held to six or fewer points in Luke Doty's first start of the season, so with the total set at 48, that's a far safer bet to make than the spread. I'm comfortable playing this down to 44.