College football has reached Week 11 and the SEC Wizard is back to give you betting picks and tips!
Florida-South Carolina won’t get the hype of some of the other marquee SEC games in Week 11. But if you like schadenfreude, it should be entertaining.
College football betting picks, Florida-South Carolina
The Gators (3-5) enter on a 4-game losing streak. Interim coach Randy Shannon lost his first game in that role, 45-16, at Missouri last week. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks (6-3) stayed close to Georgia in a 24-10 loss last week.
Will Muschamp is looking for his first win against his former program, and South Carolina likely will finish second in the SEC East with a win here. With Wofford on deck, this would all but ensure an 8-4 record at worst, and boost the team’s attractiveness for SEC bowl ties.
Florida, meanwhile, is focused on finding its next coach and holding together what had been a very good 2018 recruiting class.
How Florida can win: Hope that WR Tyrie Cleveland and RB Lamical Perine are healthy enough to be effective, and that the team gets something out of QB Malik Zaire. Don’t turn the ball over. Turn this into a conservative, defense-first game. Rely on kicker Eddy Pineiro and win on special teams. Dominate South Carolina’s average offensive line.
How South Carolina can win: Take advantage of one of the worst offenses in FBS (Florida), and get the Gators off the field early and often. Don’t take risks. Win time of possession, and wait for Florida to miss tackles and assignments. Take advantage of Florida’s lack of depth in the second half. Get a lead early so Florida never gets into the game emotionally. South Carolina holds an advantage at head coach and quarterback, and should use it.
Here are a few additional nuggets:
- South Carolina won this matchup just once from 1964 to 2009. But the Gamecocks won 4 of the last 7.
- South Carolina-Florida has gone over 43 points just once in the last 6 matchups, a 44-11 Florida win in 2012. Gators QB Jeff Driskel threw 4 TD passes in that game.
- At 6-2-1, South Carolina has the best ATS record in the SEC this season.
Florida has lost 3 consecutive games against the spread — failing to cover by an average of 18.3 points per game (!). The Gators’ ineptitude reached new levels after the bye week with the McElwain drama, a defense that has seemed to quit on the season and continual injuries.
The offense has scored more than 17 points just three times all season — against Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Yikes. Even worse, what was a top-25 defense for so many years has collapsed. Only Vanderbilt, Missouri, Arkansas and Ole Miss are worse in the SEC on that side of the ball.
- WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder) is out vs. South Carolina. With so many key injuries and suspensions, Toney was one of the only reliable playmakers left on the field, and his absence is significant. WR Tyrie Cleveland (ankle) isn’t 100 percent but is expected to play.
- DE Jachai Polite (shoulder) will also miss the South Carolina game. DE Jabari Zuniga (ankle) “will be fine,” interim coach Randy Shannon said.
- DB Nick Washington (shoulder) is out indefinitely, maybe for the rest of the season.
- QB Jake Allen is out vs. South Carolina. DB Garrett Stephens (knee) and RB Lamical Perine (knee) are questionable.
- OL Brett Heggie, RB Malik Davis, LB Kylan Johnson, DL Jordan Sherit, QB Luke Del Rio, WR James Robinson, QB Kyle Trask and DB Marcell Harris all suffered injuries that are expected to keep them out for the rest of the season.
In the first game without former coach Jim McElwain, Florida got blitzed by 29 at Missouri. UAB is up next. Have the Gators quit on this season? Or does the care enough to put forth a better effort in another SEC road game? It’s a real concern.
At 3-5, with the game against Northern Colorado canceled, Florida likely needs to win this game to have a chance at bowl eligibility (barring a sad NCAA waiver request at 5-6).
Shannon is in an unenviable position. He’s holding a temporary job for a team without a quarterback, with a defense that’s starting to fail, and with about 23 scholarship players either injured or suspended.
I’m not going to criticize Shannon, but give South Carolina a big coaching advantage.
Zaire must regret transferring from Notre Dame to Gainesville before this season. He’s played spot duty off the bench in losses to Michigan and Georgia at neutral sites, and started at Mizzou in another loss. In other words, he’s yet to throw a pass in Gainesville proper.
He’s also got just 18 rushing yards, hasn’t been as accurate as Feleipe Franks and there’s been talk that he was slow to pick up the offense.
Other than that, Florida’s outlook at QB is just rosy.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Unders are 6-2 in South Carolina games since Week 1. Gamecocks games have gone under betting totals of 48, 45 and 45. South Carolina also has covered or pushed in 5 consecutive games.
South Carolina’s defensive number is misleading. The Gamecocks held Missouri to 13 and Georgia to 24 despite an ineffective offense, and didn’t allow Tennessee to score an offensive touchdown. Will Muschamp has that unit playing very well.
- DT Taylor Stallworth (head) has been cleared to play against Florida, Will Muschamp said Thursday.
- S D.J. Smith (hip) missed Tuesday’s practice but should play Saturday.
- WR Terry Googer (concussion), OL Malik Young (ankle) and WR Chad Terrell (ankle) are all questionable.
- DB Tavyn Jackson (hamstring) and RB Rico Dowdle (leg) are out indefinitely.
South Carolina just played an emotional game in Athens, a 24-10 loss to No. 1 Georgia. Wofford is on deck. But Will Muschamp is 0-1 against Florida since the Gators fired him, and should be motivated to get some revenge against a wounded program. Winning this game also would put the Gamecocks in line to reach 8 wins next week against Wofford.
Muschamp is a brilliant defensive game-planner. Despite inferior personnel, South Carolina held Georgia to its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Only Notre Dame fared better, and that was in South Bend, Ind., in Jake Fromm’s first start. One has to believe that Muschamp will be able to put the clamps to an all-time bad Florida offense.
Bentley’s numbers are good, but he’s better than they indicate. Playing behind a mediocre and often-injured offensive line, without top playmaker Deebo Samuel, Bentley is an emotional quarterback who isn’t afraid to take a hit or make a risky throw.
Still just 19 years old, Bentley is on track to becoming one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks, and is much better than whomever Florida trots out this week.
THE WIZARD’S PREDICTION
Bet: South Carolina -5.5.
Score: South Carolina 24, Florida 13
This line opened at -7.5, and despite a reported 81 percent of public tickets backing the Gamecocks, has moved across the key numbers of 7 and 6, all the way down to 5.5. So-called “sharp” money is backing the Gators in this spot, although I have no idea why.
I bought this at -7, and I bought even more South Carolina at -5.5. It’s not difficult to stop the current Florida offense, and Muschamp will have a game plan to make sure that happens. Florida features 24 injured or suspended scholarship players out of 85, or 28.2 percent of the roster — and that’s not counting redshirts. This program made Missouri look outstanding last week and will help South Carolina reach seven wins in Week 11.
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