Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tennessee-South Carolina Preview and Prediction

Tennessee at South Carolina
Saturday 7PM ET
Line: South Carolina -6

The Volunteers and Gamecocks meet on Saturday night in an important game for bowl posturing in the SEC (well at least for South Carolina maybe). Tennessee is having a rough season and is in danger of missing a bowl for the second time in the last four seasons. South Carolina has come on stronger after a shaky start to the season.

Steve Spurrier always liked to poke at Phil Fulmer and Tennessee when he was at Florida. We have not heard as much out of the Old Ball Coach since he has been in Columbia (probably because he does not have near the talent). Still, this is a big for Spurrier and it may be the last stand for Fulmer at Tennessee.

Tennessee Offense vs South Carolina Defense
The Vols thought they were going to have a punishing ground game in 2008, but that has not materialized. The passing game is not doing a whole lot better with just 167 ypg through the air. Nick Stephens took over for Jonathan Crompton at QB, but has not fared much better in his starts. The offensive line returned most of the two deep from last year, but has been a huge disappointment also. Tennessee had had issues with turnovers at key times as well.

South Carolina boasts one of the best defenses in the SEC. The Gamecocks are allowing just 256 ypg total and just 140 ypg passing. Outside of the LSU game, South Carolina’s defense has held every other opponent to less yards than their offense..and the Gamecocks offense is not that good. The defense is led by LB Jasper Brinkley and DB Captain Munnerlyn.

South Carolina Offense vs Tennessee Defense
As bad as the UT rushing game has been, South Carolina’s is even worse averaging just a hair over 100 ypg. The revolving door at quarterback appears to have stopped on Stephen Garcia, but you never know with Steve Spurrier who says Chris Smelley will also play. Their favorite targets are Kenny McKinley and Jared Cook. The Gamecocks have done pretty well in the air averaging 240 ypg.

The Tennessee defense cannot shoulder much of the blame this season. They have been pretty stingy giving up fewer than 280 ypg of total offense. The strength of the defense is ball-hawking safety Eric Berry. The sophomore already leads the SEC in interception return yards and even may play some offense this week.

I think South Carolina has improved over the year and Chris Smelley is starting to settle in at Quarterback. Tennessee has been so inept on offense it is hard to imagine them coming back if they get down. I will take South Carolina, but give the 6 to a desperate Tennessee team.

South Carolina 21 Tennessee 17
Tennessee Covers +6

Last Week: 3-2 ATS, 3-2 SU
Season: 23-9-2 ATS, 23-11 SU

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