East Carolina at South Carolina
Saturday, 1 pm PT - SEC Network
CRIS Opener: South Carolina -5.5 O/U 50
CRIS Current: South Carolina -3 O/U 50
Recommendation: East Carolina
I have no qualms recommending a bet against South Carolina laying points, especially facing a solid East Carolina team that has notched back-to-back wins to open the season including last week against NC State. It was a quality win considering the fact ECU brought in a new head coach in Scottie Montgomery combined with new coordinators and systems on both sides of the football. There has been a ton of rebuilding due to graduation losses along the offensive line and in various levels of their defense which led me to believe it could take some time for this team to gel. The Pirates however knocked off the Wolfpack 33-30 last week with Minnesota transfer QB Philip Nelson showing he has a solid grasp of this offense. Nelson is completing 81.3% of his passes through two games for 695 yards with 6 TDs and just 1 INT.
South Carolina has played two mediocre offensive teams to begin the season in SEC foes Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. You could certainly argue ECU's offense could be their toughest test of the season to this point. There are some holes in the East Carolina defense and that was on display last week against NC State as it allowed close to 500 total yards of offense on nearly 8 yards per play. But South Carolina offense has proven to be very unsettled. They also may be without a couple starters along the o-line with right tackle Blake Camper and right guard Cory Helms exiting last week's game with injuries and currently questionable for Saturday. The offensive line problems were on full display as the Gamecocks ran for a pathetic 34 yards against MSU. And the QB position is a major problem area with Perry Orth struggling and getting benched last week for freshman Brandon McIlwain who gave the team a bit of a spark offensively in the second half. Note that no starting QB has been named yet for this game. South Carolina was outgained by 262 yards in their 24-14 loss to Mississippi State and the fact their defense was gashed for 485 total yards in the defeat does not bode well for success moving forward.
The South Carolina defense will also be minus a key cog in the secondary with senior safety Chaz Elder out for this game and possibly beyond with a rib contusion. East Carolina has been a profit machine in this pointspread role: 6-0 ATS since 2013 as a non-conference underdog and I think they take this game down to the wire with a chance to win outright. Worth it to shop around and pick off one of the few +3.5's remaining.