South Carolina Gamecocks vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Thursday, September 3, 2015, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
Opening Line: South Carolina -1
Current Line: South Carolina -2
Opening Total: 63 1/2
Current Total: 64 1/2
Opening Money Line: South Carolina -145 / North Carolina +105
Current Money Line: South Carolina -140 / North Carolina +110
The 2015 college football season gets underway as two border rivals clash. The South Carolina Gamecocks and North Carolina Tar Heels meet Thursday in Charlotte. North Carolina leads the series 34-18-4, including 2-0 in neutral site games. Although they have played 56 times, this is only the 11th meeting since 1978. South Carolina has won five of the last six including two straight in 2007 and 2013. The Gamecocks won the the 2013 contest 27-10 in Columbia.
Both teams are coming off disappointing 6-6 seasons in the regular season last year. North Carolina, coached by Larry Fedora, lost to Rutgers 40-21 in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. South Carolina, coached by Steve Spurrier, beat Miami-(FL) 24-21 in the Independence Bowl 24-21 in Shreveport. UNC went 5-8 ATS and the total was 5-7 last year. South Carolina went 5-8 ATS and the total was 6-7.
Expectations are not very high for either team entering 2015. North Carolina is 21/1 to win the ACC Championship game according to 5Dimes Sportsbooks. South Carolina is 40/1 to win the SEC Championship game.
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South Carolina outscored teams 33-30 last year. The Gamecocks averaged 443 yards per game on offense last year, including 282 passing and 161 rushing yards. South Carolina was in the top 40 nationally in total offense, passing and scoring. South Carolina struggled on defense though. The Gamecocks allowed 433 yards per game including 221 passing and 212 rushing. USC was #89 or worse in total defense, rush defense and points allowed. The Gamecocks were -2 in turnovers.
Only ten starters are back in 2015 for the Gamecocks, including just four on offense. Sophomore quarterback Connor Mitch takes over for Dylan Thompson, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers. Mitch threw only six passes last year as a freshman. However, he threw for over 12,000 yards in his high school career in Raleigh, NC and threw 63 touchdown passes as a senior.
Running back Mike Davis is also with the 49ers. Look for Brandon Wilds and David Williams to split teh carries in 2015. Wilds had 106 carries for 570 yards and 4 touchdowns last year, along with 18 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Williams had 45 carries for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 7 catches.
Receiver Pharoh Cooper is back after making 69 catches for 1,136 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also rushed for 200 yards on 27 carries with 2 touchdowns, and even threw 2 touchdown passes.Tight end Jerell Adams is probable with a hamstring injury. He had 21 catches for 279 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Shaq Davidson and Jerad Washington are both out indefinitely.
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North Carolina was outscored 39-33 last year. The Tar Heels averaged 430 yards per game on offense, including 278 passing and 151 rushing yards. UNC was #45 or better in scoring, total offense and passing nationally. The Tar Heel defense was even worse than South Carolina’s last year. UNC allowed 498 total yards including 257 passing and 241 rushing. The Tar Heels were #101 or worse out of 128 teams in all major defensive categories. The Tar Heels were even in turnovers.
Sixteen starters are back for North Carolina, including 10 on offense. Senior quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 3,068 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and also rushing for 788 yards on 193 carries with 13 touchdowns.
While Williams was the leading rusher last year for UNC, Tar Heel coaches hope a trio of talented running backs can carry more of the rushing burden so Williams doesn’t take so many hits. T.J. Logan had 119 carries for 582 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 144 yards. Romar Morris had 65 carries for 278 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 21 catches for 178 yards. Elijah Hood had 67 carries for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The top 4 receivers are back for the Tar Heels. Ryan Switzer (61 catches, 757 yards and 4 touchdowns), Mack Hollins (35, 613, 8), Quinshad Davis (41, 470, 6) and Bug Howard (42, 455, 2) are all back.
South Carolina is 5-1 ATS against ACC teams and 1-6 in September. North Carolina is 6-1 ATS in Thursday games, 5-2 on grass, 1-4 in on-conference games and 0-5 in September.
This should be a high scoring shoot-out as both teams have good offenses and terrible defenses. South Carolina has more questions on offense with a new quarterback, new running backs and mostly untested receivers. I think South Carolina is favored in this game only because the SEC is a stronger conference than the ACC. I like North Carolina to win in a mild upset.