Game preview: Can USC offense keep up with Texas A&M?
ESPN.com’s David Purdum joined us again this week to talk about the big line in Saturday’s South Carolina-Texas A&M game, why that might spell trouble for Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and what the Heisman Trophy odds look like at the moment.
How has the line moved this week?
It opened at 9 at the Wynn. It has ticked up to 9.5 now with Texas A&M as the favorite and a big favorite. Nearing double-digits in SEC play is pretty impressive for sure. South Carolina just hasn’t looked good in the past few weeks, and I think that the early respect that they gained with their performance at Missouri, of course Missouri has struggled mightily since then, got blown out by Auburn last week, so any luster they gained from that has decreased for sure as well. We will have to see how they show up as a big underdog here and see if Muschamp can turn things around.
This is a pretty good testament to why sports books don’t react too much to one or two games in a season, right?
Absolutely. I would think that this line, if you had it to start the beginning of the year, Texas A&M had more hype, more expectations, so it probably would have been around this. It’s safe to say it’s gone up a little bit. Texas A&M had the awful blown lead at the start of the season and that has kind of hung with them a little bit, and South Carolina was impressive to start than a lot of people thought, but now it seems like things are regressing back to where we thought these teams were.
This is a dangerous spot for Kevin Sumlin to be in it seems because he can hardly afford a bad loss given his tenuous job security and losing to an almost 10-point underdog would be a bad loss, don’t you think?
It’s a dangerous spot because there is a lot of pressure on him. One more slip-up could cost him his job. They blow the big lead against UCLA and then are OK the following weeks, but he has historically been great in September. His teams were 24-11 against the spread in September entering the season. That’s the best record of any active coach in September, so he’s gotten his teams to play well to start the season. They’ve faded notoriously in November. We will see if that streak continues.
What’s going on with the Heisman Trophy odds a month into the season?
At the beginning of the year, Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold was the favorite. Then there were the second-tier guys like Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and then Penn State’s Saquan Barkley, the running back. All those guys were kind of rotating around. Mayfield was the favorite a couple weeks ago. Jackson was a favorite at one point. Now Barkley has moved up to the top of that because he had such a good performance against Iowa last week. I don’t think it’s necessarily that uncommon for things to fluctuate early in the season unless there is some dominant favorite. We have a rotating cast and right now it’s Barkley.