Virginia-South Carolina Betting Guide: Cavaliers Have 2 Key Advantages in 2018 Belk Bowl
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bryce Perkins and Jake Bentley
2018 Belk Bowl Betting Odds: Virginia-South Carolina
- Odds: South Carolina -5.5
- Over/Under: 53.5
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 29
- Location: Charlotte, N.C.
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
>> All odds as of Friday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets
Don’t sleep on the smaller bowl games on Saturday — a winner on the Belk Bowl is worth as much as a winner on the College Football Playoff.
South Carolina-Virginia has about 20% of the bets that Clemson-Notre Dame does, but we’re diving deep to find betting value.
Odds Movement for South Carolina-Virginia
By Danny Donahue
South Carolina opened just under a touchdown favorite (-6.5), but within a day had dropped to -4. That move came despite a majority of bets hitting the Gamecocks.
Since then, however, South Carolina has found its way back to -5, and even -5.5 at a number of books. Sixty-two percent of bettors, accounting for 58% of dollars, are laying the points with the Gamecocks.
As for the total, bettors are in agreement on the under, and the books have reacted accordingly. Fifty-seven percent of both bets and dollars have hit the under, dropping the number from 55 to 53.5.
SEC Cleans Up In This Spot
By Evan Abrams
Virginia enters the Belk Bowl on a two-game losing streak, dropping its last two games by just three points a piece.
Since 2010, when a team enters its bowl game on at least a two-game losing streak and faces an SEC team, it is 1-8 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS), failing to cover by 11.3 PPG.
Mismatch in the Trenches
The South Carolina defensive line has been decimated by injuries, as the Gamecocks won’t have the services of Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Wonnun, Daniel Fennell and likely Aaron Sterling. As a result, UVA should dominate the line of scrimmage on offense and convert almost every third-and-short on the ground.
Just look at these full-season metric mismatches that don’t even take into account the full impact of the defensive line injuries:
- UVA offense: 15
- SC defense: 118
- UVA offense: 14
- SC defense: 98
Expect UVA to convert on third downs at an extremely high clip, as it did all season, ranking 12th in the nation at 47.4%.
Who’s More Motivated?
In its first bowl game since 2011, UVA was absolutely embarrassed by Navy, 49-7, in Annapolis last year. I’m sure Bronco Mendenhall will have UVA fired up for some redemption in Charlotte, especially since this serves as a refocus spot to end the year on a high note after losing three of its final four games.
This is an important game for the Virginia program, as it seeks to beat a Power 5 program in its first back-to-back bowl appearances in 14 years.
Meanwhile, Will Muschamp has taken the Gamecocks to a bowl in each of his first two seasons, losing to USF in overtime in 2016 and beating Michigan last year. There is no reason to think either team would have a material motivational edge here.
By Steve Petrella
Muschamp is a great motivator. I mean, would you not want to play for this guy?
But Muschamp fares far better as an underdog ATS than as a favorite because he’s not the world’s greatest tactician, but gets his guys up for big games.
- Favorite: 19-26-2 ATS
- Underdog: 23-16-1 ATS
Bet to Watch
By Collin Wilson
The highlights from this year’s Belk Bowl will come from the quarterbacks and what the opposing defenses can do to stop it. Virginia signal-caller Bryce Perkins has thrown for almost 2,500 yards, but has racked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground.
Virginia has a good defense, but points come and go depending on Perkins who has 31 total touchdowns on the season. South Carolina junior quarterback Jake Bentley was just shy of 3,000 yards on the season with a 27 to 12 touchdown to interception ratio.
Virginia comes into this game losing three of its last four games and has not won a bowl since 1995. South Carolina had the much tougher path to the Belk Bowl, as the Gamecocks have a strength of schedule of ninth compared to the Wahoos’ 97th in S&P+.
Perkins should find success in moving the sticks. South Carolina’s defense is top 20 against explosiveness but ranks outside the top 100 in efficiency.
Virginia’s defense is boom or bust. With a sack rate of just 50th, the Cavaliers rely on a defense back havoc rate of first in the nation. Bentley will take his shots to get the Gamecocks down the field, but there should be some interceptions to keep Virginia close.
The Action Network power ratings make this game South Carolina -3.5, giving value to the current Virginia number. We will back the Wahoos as South Carolina struggles with rush explosiveness, ranking 92nd on defense going against a very mobile Perkins.
South Carolina will also be without its biggest star in WR Deebo Samuel. Not only was he the top receiving option for Bentley in the passing game, Samuel also had 23 kick returns, averaging 24.8 yards per attempt.
Collin’s Pick: UVA +5.5
Bet to Watch
I agree with Collin on Virginia. I think it can exploit a vulnerable SC rush defense (4.5 yards per carry allowed; 78th in country) and an overall very inefficient SC defense (119th in Success Rate). The Gamecocks do a great job of limiting explosive plays, but that’s not UVA’s offensive game.
On the other side of the ball, UVA can defend the pass (only 6.5 yards per pass allowed; No. 33 in nation) better than it does the run, which is important against this Gamecocks team that ranks 18th in S&P+ passing offense.
Keep your eye out for Bryce Hall, one of the best corners in the nation, who can contain SC’s other star receiver Bryan Edwards. The Virginia secondary ranks No. 1 in the nation in Havoc Rate. Expect a few big plays from that group.
And the secondary’s job will be even easier without the services of Samuel, whose presence will also help even out the special teams advantage that SC has on paper (No. 3 S&P+ vs. No. 70).
Stuckey’s Pick: UVA +5.5