USC Gamecocks Football

Vegas oddsmaker predicts hard road in South Carolina’s biggest games

It’s been a given through this offseason South Carolina’s 2019 schedule will be a gauntlet among the toughest in the land, highlighted by the likely preseason No. 1, 2 and 3 teams.

But even considering that, the latest opening lines for the Gamecocks’ games against Clemson, Georgia and Alabama paint a start picture.

According to opening lines released by The Golden Nugget casino. the Gamecocks will be underdogs by at least 18 points in each of those games. The bookmaker has USC as an 18-point underdog in Columbia in September against Alabama, a 20-point ‘dog in Athens and the Tigers as a 23.5-point favorite in Williams-Brice to close the season.

The Gamecocks were only once double-digit underdogs in 2018, covering a 26-point spread in a loss to Clemson. An early line against Georgia came down to nine and the Bulldogs won by 24. USC went 7-6 against the spread.

Last season around the same time, USC was named an 11-point underdog vs. UGA and a 19-point underdog against Clemson.

South Carolina isn’t the only team set to face that trio, as cross-division rival Texas A&M also has that task. The Aggies are in slightly better shape, a 17.5-point underdog in Death Valley early on, getting 14 points when Alabama comes to visit and getting 12.5 at Georgia.

Even though the subject of scheduling has been a hot one, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp has oft deflected it, pointing out the schedule is a challenge every year. Clemson, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida are regular fixtures, and the bottom of the SEC is never that soft.

“It’s tough every year,” Muschamp said in April. “Our schedule is difficult every year. I don’t understand why everyone is making a big deal about it. Success to us is winning our state and winning the East. That gives you the opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff, and that’s what our expectation is every year.”