South Carolina canceled a game last week. It did not cancel its season.
Two weeks ago, the Gamecocks were being talked about, by their fans and some media, like a team that could give No. 2 Georgia a run for its money. One bad loss to the Bulldogs and one hurricane-erased game later, and now they’re going to lose to Vanderbilt? I don’t buy it.
Yes, South Carolina looked bad against Georgia. Yes, the Gamecocks would have benefited in several ways from getting back on the field against Marshall last week. Yes, Vanderbilt looked good against Notre Dame.
All that I get. What I don’t understand is the excessive hand-wringing suddenly surrounding South Carolina. The Gamecocks could absolutely lose to Vanderbilt, but there’s no more reason to expect that now than there was in the preseason and there weren’t many people picking that then.
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ESPN.com’s football power index gives the Gamecocks a 58 percent chance to win the game. South Carolina is a 2.5-point favorite in Las Vegas, but there remains an undercurrent of worry within Columbia and speculation outside of it that the Commodores are going to derail South Carolina’s season.
Let’s remember, though, that this summer at SEC Media Days, South Carolina was projected to finish second in the SEC East. Vanderbilt was picked to finish sixth. That wasn’t that long ago. The Commodores look better than we thought they might, but the Gamecocks remain the better team.
South Carolina must limit Kyle Shurmur’s effectiveness and establish its own running game. If it does those things, it will easily cover this spread.
South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 21