Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: Why Georgia is a heavy favorite; Spurrier’s history as underdog

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier gmelendez@thestate.com

David Purdum of ESPN Chalk joins us to talk about South Carolina’s matchup against Georgia, including some very interesting numbers regarding Steve Spurrier as an underdog.

Question: The Bulldogs are now a 17-point favorite, right, up from 12.5 last week?

Answer: They are up 17. It opened at 16. That’s the second-largest spread in this series since at least 1997. It did move dramatically. Obviously, South Carolina has quarterback injury problems that have impacted that as well. South Carolina hasn’t looked very good, and Georgia has looked pretty good.

Q.: What is Steve Spurrier’s history as an underdog?

A.: I’ve got him at 39-34 against the spread as an underdog for his career heading into this year. It’s a solid record. It’s about 52 percent. You need to cover the spread 52.3 percent of the time to make money when you’re betting with the vig or the juice, which is the 10 percent you have to pay to the bookmaker so he’s been OK. Something interesting is that he has pulled off 25 straight up upsets as an underdog. Now, those are not all 18-point or 17-point games, but he has some propensity to be able to get his team to play to a higher level and pull some legitimate upsets as an underdog.

I think Spurrier certainly has that reputation around college football as being dangerous when he’s the underdog. This is the second-largest negative line he has faced since 2009. The largest was last year at Auburn, where South Carolina was an 18.5-point favorite and played great before losing 42-35.

Q.: You would think Georgia fans have to be very leery of it. He has covered six out of the last eight with one push against Georgia. So he’s 6-1-1 against the spread versus Georgia in the last eight years. Obviously, very impressive, won four of the five?

A.: There national championship odds are 1,000-to-1 right now so you if you want to take a flier and see if they get hot and pull out a miracle, now would be a good time to do it.

Q.: My lock of the week last week was Oklahoma as a pick ’em against Tennessee, which you helped point me toward. I feel like I kind of got lucky there with the Oklahoma win but anyway, I’m 2-0 this week and up to $545 from my original $500 pot. Are there any numbers out there that you really like this week?

A.: The Mississippi line with Alabama looked really interesting. It has hung right there at 6.5. Obviously, Mississippi has not played an extremely high level of competition but has looked extremely impressive, and that’s all you can do when you get a cupcake. This is the year that all those great recruiting classes that Hugh Freeze brought in are supposed to come into their own. I think Mississippi goes in there and gives Alabama a good fight.

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