Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: Why USC is a big favorite vs. UCF; future lines shifting

Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks host UCF at noon Saturday.
Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks host UCF at noon Saturday. gmelendez@thestate.com

David Purdum of ESPN Chalk joined us for our weekly visit to talk South Carolina versus UCF, a game that won’t be a national draw but does provide some hope for the struggling Gamecocks.

Even coming off two straight losses, South Carolina is a two-touchdown favorite over the winless Knights, right?

Big favorites. It’s gone all the way up to 14.5, and there are even some 15s and 16s. I think that has more to do with how bad UCF is perceived to be rather than the Gamecocks. South Carolina is not doing great, but UCF surely is dismal.

How do the Las Vegas odds makers handle teams that are in the position South Carolina and UCF are in right now in that you don’t know if they might be in danger of really falling apart?

I think as we get into Weeks 4 and 5, they get a better grasp on things. If a team is getting ready to completely fall apart and throw it in, and at times against Georgia South Carolina looked like that, the odds makers will have some trouble saying, ‘How far do we downgrade these guys?’ But right now I think they are still getting a grasp on these teams. By the middle of October, you might see more consistent change with their odds in that they will be less volatile.

So this week I took my first loss in my “lock of the week” because I took Auburn to cover the 7 against LSU. Was I the only one who was that dumb?

The books did pretty well on that. You weren’t the only one on Auburn. That kept that line right around seven. That was one of the big wins for them. The other big win was Stanford beating USC, and of course Ole Miss upset over Alabama was big for the books. They had a good Saturday.

Speaking of the Crimson Tide, you told me earlier that Las Vegas still loves them despite that loss to Ole Miss, right?

A few of the odds makers still are struggling to downgrade Alabama much. I have talked to a few of the guys at the books and they say they think that if Alabama and Michigan State played on a neutral field in the next few weeks, Alabama still would be favored. That is kind of interested seeing that.

What are some of the most interesting future SEC lines at the moment?

That Alabama-Georgia game, that’ll be a doozy. Right now, Georgia is favored by 1.5 points, and that’s interesting because Alabama has been favored in 72 consecutive games. That’s a modern era record so if the Bulldogs kick off as the favorite, that’ll break a streak that goes back to the 2009 SEC Championship game, when Alabama upset Tim Tebow and the Gators to kind of start their run.

And, finally, coach me up so I can bounce back on my “lock of the week.” What line do you like this week?

Every time Alabama loses, I bet against them the next game. Under Nick Saban, Alabama is 3-11 against the spread after losing straight up in the same seasons. You also see it in bowl games if they are not playing for the national championship. They always have such high expectations every year that when they do suffer a loss like that, they seem to have a letdown. You hear Saban talk about it, so you wonder how motivated they are going to be to play Louisiana-Monroe so I’ll take those big points. (The Crimson Tide is favored by 38 points.)

Looking down the line for the Gamecocks, have the future lines moved?

LSU is now a 10.5-point favorite. That seems low at the moment, and that might grow, and Clemson is now a 7.5-point favorite.

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