David Purdum, who is ESPN.com’s new gambling writer, joins us once again this week to break down how Las Vegas is looking at the Gamecocks. Today, we talk about how Mike Davis’ on-again, off-again availability has moved the point spread, how much attention Las Vegas pays to injuries and what last week’s performance did to the team’s future lines, among other things.
The State: David, the Gamecocks are coming off a very disappointing effort, but are still big favorites over East Carolina on Saturday? That line has moved a lot, hasn’t it?
David Purdum: It did. It opened at 17 at the Wynn on Sunday, moved all the way down to 14.5, I think probably had a lot to do with the Mike Davis injury news, went back and it’s kind of settled at 16 now that Steve Spurrier has said that Mike Davis is likely to play.
The State: That line to me says Las Vegas believes South Carolina is going to bounce back because East Carolina is not a bad team. It wouldn’t have surprised me if that line had started much closer the way the Gamecocks played against Texas A&M.
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David Purdum: I would agree. East Carolina has covered five of its last six games going back to last year. Five of those six games have gone over the total. They run that same hurry-up offense that the Gamecocks got shredded by with A&M. That line is not going to go below 14, but to see it end up right around 14 wouldn’t be surprising.
The State: In regard to the line moving based on Mike Davis’ availability, how much of what Vegas has to do each week is keep up with injuries?
David Purdum: I would add weather to that, and it’s only the very key, elite players. Quarterbacks, a superstar running back like a Mike Davis. If it was an average running back, it probably wouldn’t move, but quarterbacks will impact it. You saw the line move about 2.5 points when Davis was doubtful to play. Injuries are probably, in college especially, overvalued more than anything. People think it will be a bigger adjustment and Vegas won’t adjust as much.
The State: Last week we talked about the future odds you could get on South Carolina, against the Georgias and the Clemsons. How have those lines changed since the Gamecocks’ performance?
David Purdum: They will be adjusted. Georgia is now 3.5-point favorites (in a game South Carolina was favored to win last week).
The State: The big game nationally this week is Oregon-Michigan State. What is that line and what do you think about it?
David Purdum: It opened up at 11.5, as low as 10.5 (Oregon favored over Michigan State). It’s all the way up to 13. Everybody kind of looks at that line and says, ‘Michigan State has been so great. They beat Stanford. Stanford has played Oregon tough the last few years. Why are they a double-digit dog?’ But playing Stanford and playing Oregon are two completely different animals. Just different style of offense. When is the last time Michigan State has seen anything like what Oregon is going to present? They haven’t.