Game preview: NC State offers stiff test in USC opener
David Purdum, who covers sports gaming for ESPN.com, will join us again this season to break down the betting line on every South Carolina football game. This week, the Gamecocks are five-point underdogs against N.C. State, but they’ve gotten some action headed their way this week.
The line has moved toward South Carolina this week. What is your reaction to that?
It climbed pretty high. It opened at 2.5 at the Westgate. It climbed all the way to six and then it looked like it moved back down across the board everywhere. That kind of move on a Monday before a game is notable. It’s very interesting that it moved at almost every sportsbook. That shows that there was some influential money coming in on South Carolina.
Why do you think that is? Did people start paying closer attention because it’s game week or did something specific happen?
Limits might have increased Monday. They usually wait a little later in the week but since this is Game 1 I wouldn’t be surprised if some books offered some larger limits Monday and as soon as those larger limits start showing up some of the professional bettors pounce.
Season-opening lines have to be the most nerve wracking to set right?
Absolutely, a lot of speculation and we’re getting guys trying to put up lines earlier and earlier. The first ones went up in May. There was a game Oklahoma State-Tulsa, that line moved eight points, from 10 to 18 so these early games you will see pretty big moves on them, and that includes next week, Week 2, when people are still guessing. You will see larger lines moves early in the season than you do probably early in October and November.
South Carolina’s over-under for wins this year is 5.5. Which side of that would your gut tell you to bet?
It seems like that line, to bet the over is a little bit the favorite. It’s minus-120, meaning you’ve got to bet $120 to get $100 if you want to bet the over. It seems to me a lot like that line hinges on the opener in a way. If they win this opener, they get to six, if they don’t, five could be right there. It’s a good number. They are an underdog in this game so I guess I would have to lean under because they are the underdog in this game which seems to hinge the 5.5.
You compiled the record of every Power 5 head coach against the spread and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp is 25-32. Do you think that’s a good indicator of coaching acumen?
I do. I think it indicates whether they consistently get their teams to exceed the expectations of the public. Bookmakers are going to tell you the line doesn’t mean exactly how much we think one team will beat another team but by the time all the betting is done and that closing number is set it indicates, we think this team will beat this team by this many points. So if a team constantly is beating that number and exceeding the expectations of the market, I definitely think so. In this case, with Coach Muschamp’s team he was bad at Florida in terms of covering the spread. He came there (USC) with a losing record so it does seem like his teams have not met the expectations of the betting market.