Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: Why our expert is betting the over on South Carolina wins in 2018

It’s game week. Now what?

USC football coach Will Muschamp tells his players that every week is a season as they prepare for Coastal Carolina.
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USC football coach Will Muschamp tells his players that every week is a season as they prepare for Coastal Carolina.

ESPN gambling writer David Purdum will join The State again this season to give his take, and Las Vegas’ take, on South Carolina’s football team, and the Gamecocks’ matchup each week. To open the season, we talked with Purdum about why he bet the over on South Carolina’s season win total and why getting the Gamecocks at 40-to-1 to win the SEC might be a good bet.

The season win total for South Carolina was set at seven. Why is betting the over a smart move?

When it opened, you had to bet $120 to win $100 on the opener. The price on it has gone up. It’s now $150 to win $100. That means enough people have bet the over to make them up the price a little. Those win total bets usually have $2,000 limits, and for every limit bet they get from a respected player they’ll move the price up 10. So that makes me think that at least three wagers from players they respect, not me, came in over seven. It does seem they have attracted some money to make them adjust the odds.

For me, it comes down to that three-game home stretch in October — Missouri, Texas A&M and Tennessee. If they can win two of those three, it seems pretty easy to me that they are going to get over seven. You’ve got wins over Coastal and Chattanooga. You will be big favorites over Marshall. It sets up well to get over seven to me when I counted it up.

Of all the futures bets surrounding South Carolina — 40-to-1 to win the SEC, 80-to-1 to make the College Football Playoff, 300-to-1 to win the national title, quarterback Jake Bentley 100-to-1 to win the Heisman Trophy — is there one that sticks out to you as worth taking a shot on?

I’d say 40-to-1 to win the SEC. The other team I bet the over win total on is Georgia. Georgia is uber talented right now. I just think they are really loaded. But at 40-to-1 for South Carolina to win the SEC, if something happens to Georgia, you have to think South Carolina is right there in that next group of teams, so maybe you win the East if Georgia falters and then you have a ticket at 40-to-1 and you would have some hedge room there. I do think there is some value there.

So, say you’re headed into the SEC Championship game with a ticket for South Carolina to win the overall conference championship and they make the title game against, say, Alabama. How would you “hedge” that bet?

You’d bet on Alabama. You’d probably have to bet say $500 to make $100 because Alabama would be a big favorite. So let’s way we bet 100 at 40-to-1 on South Carolina to win the SEC. That’s $4,000 if they win the title game, so on the other side, let’s say you had to bet $500 on Alabama to win $100. That covers the $100 that you bet on the 40-to-1 ticket so you’re guaranteed not to lose anything and if South Carolina wins, you’re up $3,500 right there. A lot of times that’s what professional do with futures best, something that will give them value down the road where they can lock in some profit.

Two of South Carolina’s later games already have lines set. The Gamecocks are 2.5-point underdogs against Texas A&M and 21.5-point underdogs against Clemson. Does either one of those make you want to put some money down at this point?

That Texas A&M line is close. They are only a 2.5-point underdog. Now that could easily flip. I would hold off on betting that game now. The 21.5 points is a lot to lay. That’s got to be one of their highest in this rivalry in a while, but I don’t bet many games that far out in the future. It’s tough for me to do that.

The Gamecocks are 29.5-point favorites against Coastal Carolina in the Sept. 1 season-opener. What’s your philosophy on betting games with large lines like that?

Those big numbers you just have to gauge and work out your own power rankings and what you think the lines should be. If you think South Carolina should be a 35-point favorite, bet them. It all comes down to your power rankings. That’s how the pros do it. The things that professional gamblers look for are things not currently included in the spread, like opening suspensions. They try to get that information before it is inputted into the lines. There are different power rankings, some on ESPN that our analytics people really dives into. Phil Steele puts out a lot of power ranking type things.

USC football coach Will Muschamp says Jaycee Horn, Nick Harvey and JT Ibe will be important to the success of the Gamecock secondary.

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