ESPN.com sports gaming writer David Purdum and I talked, briefly, about South Carolina’s big point spread in this week’s game against South Alabama. Then we got on to the important stuff – the Clemson game. The Carolina-Clemson line currently is off the books because of the uncertainty surrounding Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson. Purdum says expect to see the line come back up Sunday and expect the Gamecocks to be underdogs regardless of who plays quarterback for Clemson.
The State: For the first time in a while, we are talking about the Gamecocks coming off a win. They enter the South Alabama game as a 22-point favorite. These numbers are kind of drawn out of a hat at times it seems, but Vegas does have a game this season where the Jaguars played an SEC team (a 35-3 loss to Mississippi State) to provide some context, right?
David Purdum: They totally use that game to gauge the point spread on this. Early in the week these games that have big spreads are kind of guesses. They can change pretty significantly throughout the week if there is some injury information that comes out or if there is significant betting on one side or another. It hasn’t moved much right now.
The State: Now onto the line that everybody cares about, next week’s game against Clemson. With Deshaun Watson’s availability up in the air, Vegas has said, ‘We don’t want any part of it until we know more.’
David Purdum: It was 9.5 last week before Clemson’s game, before he got hurt. Now they’ve taken the game down. Clemson was a 9.5-point favorite, kind of waiting on Watson. The injury didn’t sound as bad as it looked initially, but I guess he’s still be listed as questionable. They are kind of holding that game off the board now. If he plays, I’m assuming it’ll go back up at right around 9.5. It may bring it down a little bit. If the backup quarterback comes in, maybe it gets down to 7 or something like that, but South Carolina is going to be the underdog.
The State: Is there a day we should expect that line to go back up or will they just wait until they get more information on Watson?
David Purdum: It’ll open Sunday again unless there is still major question marks about who will play quarterback. These are the lines they put out early in the year at the Las Vegas Superbook. They are the only ones who update these games of the year lines updated throughout the year. They keep your Alabama-Auburns, your South Carolina-Clemsons, these major games, they will keep a point spread going and they have had it throughout the year. But right now because there are so many question marks they are going to keep it down, but it will go back up on Sunday.
The State: Even if Watson is out, you expect it to be a pretty healthy line for Clemson, right?
David Purdum: Yeah, I don’t think Watson to the backup will be a 7-point difference or anything like that. With it at 9.5 last week, if it drops under 7, that would be pretty surprising to me. I would think 7 to 7.5 without Watson.
The State: Alabama remains the betting favorite to win the national championship, right?
David Purdum: They are. Oregon is No. 2, Florida State is No. 3 and TCU is No. 4. Ohio State is right there behind them. You have Mississippi State and Baylor also in the mix. One thing last weekend did do was affect the Iron Bowl. Alabama is all the way up to a 9.5-point favorite after seeing Auburn get dismantled at Georgia.