Pick: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina

Picking this type of late season contest simply boils down to a pair of intangible factors.

Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
Odds: South Carolina -34.5 (-110) and 69.5 (-110)**limited availability
Time-change to 01:00pm EST
South Carolina - RB-Mike Davis-Probable
TV: ESPN Game Plan, DTV: 791

This game is one of a half dozen oddly placed FBS vs. FCS contests today that generally are passed by the overwhelming majority of bettors. Handicapping this type of late season contest simply boils down to a pair of intangible factors which are often tough to get a real solid handle on.

First and foremost is focus and preparation from the FBS group. Coastal Carolina will obviously be pumped up and ready to play in this contest which is their only regular season opportunity to be noticed nationally. South Carolina's interest is the obvious question in this spot since -34.5 point favorites with an arch rival (Clemson) on deck often feel they don't need a fully focused effort in order to win.

The second basic element in handicapping a game like this is how long will the head coach stick with his starters. If a sizable lead is built by South Carolina in this game after three quarters, it makes sense to back off and save the starters. Getting a key player injured prior to Clemson and bowl season because they're still playing late in a rout situation is inexcusable. The playing time is critical here because this Coastal Carolina team has an explosive, quick strike offense which is very capable of sneaking in the proverbial "back door" to get the money.

Gamecocks Head Coach Steve Spurrier once upon a time had a significant reputation in the betting and oddsmaking communities as one who would try and score that extra touchdown in the fourth quarter to cover a pointspread. That characteristic has dwindled quite a bit during his South Carolina tenure.

Led by redshirt sophomore QB Alex Ross, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (6'2" 230 lbs / 23 TD's) and a trio of senior WR's who have combined for 104 catches, the Chantacleers have rolled to a 10-1 record. The record setting offense is South Carolina's main focus today since slowing them down will make this a much easier day. The veteran and massive offensive line features five upper class starters with four 305+ pounders who have paved the way to RB Taliaferro's 6.7 yards per carry average and only allowed QB Ross to be sacked once every 19.7 attempts.

Defensively this underdog figures to have an extremely difficult time handling anything South Carolina does so if they're focused and ready, expect 500+ yards from the Gamecocks. FCS opponents have rushed for 197.8 ypg against this defense so Shon Carson is in line for a huge afternoon.

As stated above, these games are difficult handicaps which usually draw little interest from bettors. The line at -34.5 seems to be in an excellent spot since my power ratings indicate South Carolina to be the exact same price. HC Spurrier is saying all the right things this week and showing a lot of respect heading into the game, but the players have to follow suit in order for this to be a blowout. In the end, I chose not to play this contest because the margin is so thin and either point spread result wouldn't surprise me.

Game Projection: South Carolina 48 Coastal Carolina 14

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