South Carolina opened up as an eight-point favorite over Tennessee this weekend in Columbia (it has moved to seven since then.) . . . BUT after looking at it more closely, I honestly think that line is off and that this game could easily go either way.
It is well documented that Tennessee's rushing offense in 2014 leaves a lot to be desired. . . . BUT South Carolina's rushing defense isn't very good, either. They're currently giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Nobody that we've played so far this season in the FBS ranks lower. And we're coming off a game against Alabama, which was holding opponents to 78.1 rushing yards per game, and we put up 181 against them. So the Vols may not be anywhere near where they want to be on the ground yet, but this isn't a bad matchup for us, all things considered. I won't be surprised if the Vols are able to breach the 200 mark this week.
Ditto Tennessee's scoring offense. We know well the pain of not being able to put points on the board, what with final totals of nine against Florida, three against Ole Miss, and 10 against Oklahoma. . . . BUT, South Carolina has proven to be quite generous to opponents in this category so far this season. As with Rushing Defense, nobody that we've played in the FBS ranks lower than the Gamecocks and the closest higher-ranking team is not really even close. And again, we just hit 20 (and left some on the table) against Alabama, a team at the other end of the spectrum that was only giving up 14 per game. If we can get 20 against the Tide, how many can we get against a team giving up 33 per game? It sounds ridiculous, but I won't be shocked to see something approaching 40.
With the exception of their ability to defend the pass -- where the Vols are a Top 25 team and may have a slight advantage over South Carolina -- Tennessee is merely average everywhere else. . . . BUT the Gamecocks are merely average everywhere else as well. Our average passing offense goes up against their average passing defense. Their average rushing offense goes up against our average rushing defense. Their ability to put points on the board collides with our ability to keep that from happening.
To me, a seven- or eight-point spread in this game is off the mark. It looks much more like an even game to me when you look at the two teams' respective 2014 resumes to date. And when you consider the difference between the Vols' 2014 resume and the short section of it that includes Josh Dobbs' legs, well, I'm picking the Vols to win, 38-34.
|Comps||Result against Comps||Guess|
|Closest Lower||Closest Higher||Alabama||Closest Lower||Closest Higher||Alabama|
|Tennessee rushing offense vs. South Carolina rushing defense||113||104.9||104||208.4||None||Arkansas St.||2||78.1||None||Arkansas St.||181||220|
|Tennessee passing offense vs. South Carolina passing defense||68||227.5||64||229.1||Utah St.||Arkansas St.||25||199.1||Utah St.||Arkansas St.||202||230|
|Tennessee rushing defense vs. South Carolina rushing offense||67||162.5||55||177.1||Florida/Ole Miss||Oklahoma||28||218.6||Florida/Ole Miss||Oklahoma||183||160|
|Tennessee passing defense vs. South Carolina passing offense||13||181.3||29||284.3||Ole Miss||Alabama||23||290.3||Ole Miss||Alabama||286||250|
|Tennessee scoring offense vs. South Carolina scoring defense||96||23.9||98||32.8||None||Florida/Ark. St.||3||14||None||Florida/Ark. St.||20||38|
|Tennessee scoring defense vs. South Carolina scoring offense||39||22.9||31||35.1||Ole Miss||Alabama||25||36.5||Ole Miss||Alabama||34||34|