South Carolina football will be the underdog this Saturday when it faces Georgia on the Bulldogs’ home turf.
That’s not surprising — the Gamecocks are 2-3 overall, 1-2 in the SEC, and have lost 11 games in a row to ranked opponents. No. 3 Georgia, meanwhile, is 5-0 and has a 45% chance of making the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor. So unsurprisingly, the first lines that went up Sunday installed UGA as the 24-point favorite over Carolina.
According to Vegas Insider, the consensus has now settled around 24.5 points, as of Wednesday. Ahead of Saturday’s game, The State spoke with longtime gambling industry reporter David Purdum, of ESPN Chalk, to get his thoughts on the betting side of USC-UGA.
The State: The line is currently at 24.5 points, a very lopsided margin, and it actually went up from starting at 24. Where has the money been flowing and what does it say about the Gamecocks?
David Purdum: The number, it depends on where you look at, where you saw the opener. I saw one book open at 25 and go down to 24, I saw another one start at 24.5 and go up and down. So it’s right in that range. I wouldn’t characterize anything or take too much from it from the early line movement.
You mentioned this is a lopsided line. As far as the last 30 years that I looked at, this is the largest point spread in the series. South Carolina is a bigger underdog to Georgia than it’s been the last 30 times they played. It shows how these two programs, which way they’ve gone.
TS: So it’s been 30 years since either team was this heavily favored?
Yeah. Now of course two years ago it was 23.5, which is pretty close to where we are now, but going back to 1997, if the line holds at 24.5 or 25, it’s going to be the largest one in this series.
Georgia’s won five out of the last six — they’re 3-3 against the spread in that little run. Something that I thought was somewhat notable is this series has been higher scoring than the oddsmakers have expected over the last six meetings. Five of them have gone over the total. This week’s total is about 52, 53 I believe. It does look like a few books opened around 55.5, so it’s come down a little bit. ...
At coach Muschamp’s press conference, he emphasized the run game, and so did Georgia, although Georgia’s kinda looking to make more explosive plays.
TS: The very earliest lines for this game had Georgia as a 20-point favorite. Is the movement more about South Carolina having a poor start to the season or Georgia rising in oddsmakers’ eyes, at least a little?
DP: You start with the quarterback first. Bentley not being around there would definitely impact the number. I think Georgia has lived up to its hype and maybe South Carolina has failed to meet it, but if you lose your starting quarterback that’s kind of expected in a way. If it was 20 early, definitely the bigger impact for it being larger this time would be Bentley.