College Football Picks: South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats

#6 South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, September 29, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, Kentucky
Opening Line: South Carolina -20
Current Line: South Carolina -20 1/2
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 48
Opening Money Line: South Carolina -1100 / Kentucky +750
Current Money Line: South Carolina -1200 / Kentucky +850

South Carolina is a 20 1/2 point favorite on the road at Kentucky in SEC action Saturday.

The Kentucky Wildcats host the #6 South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday. This is the 24th meeting between the schools in a series that dates back to 1937. South Carolina leads the series 15-7-1, including an 8-4 record in Lexington. South Carolina has won 11 of the last 12 games in the series, including a 54-3 romp in Columbia last year. The Wildcats won the 2010 meeting in Lexington 31-28 to snap a 10 game losing streak to the Gamecocks.

South Carolina is 4-0 this seasonunder coach Steve Spurrier. After a narrow 17-13 win at Vanderbilt to open the season, South Carolina crushed East Carolina 48-10, UAB 49-6, and Missouri 31-10 last week, all at home. After a scoreless first quarter, the Gamecocks outscored the Tigers 21-3 in the second quarter, and were never threatened again. Missouri scored a late touchdown to mke it 31-10, but South Carolina easily covered the 10.5 point number, and the game staye under the 48 point total. Soth Caroina had 396 total yards, and held Missouri to 255 yards. he Gamecocks had 2 turnovers, and the Tigers had one.

South Carolina is averaging 424.2 total yards per game including 259.5 passing yards and 164.8 rushing yards. On defense, the Gamecocks are allowing 300.2 total yards, including 233.2 passing yards and 67 rushing yards. The Gamecocks are #20 in total defense and #9 in rushing yards. South Carolina is outscoring teams 36.2-9.8 this season. The Gamecocks are #5 in scoring defense. South Carolina is 3-1 ATS and the total is 2-2 this season.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has completed 35 of 46 passes (76.1%) for 423 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He is also the second leading rusher for the Gamecocks with 31 carries for 127 yards, He is probable with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the East Carolina game three weeks ago. Back-up Dylan Thompson has completed 27 of 52 passes (51.9%) for 510 yards with 5 touchdown throws, no interceptions, and a rushing touchdown. He threw for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns against ECU, and threw 2 touchdowns and ran for another against UAB after Shaw reinjured his throwing shoulder late in the second quarter. Shaw played almost the entire game against Missouri until late in the fourth quarter. He completed 20 of 21 passes with 2 touchdown passes and ran for 41 yards. If healthy, Shaw will be the starter, but keep an eye on the shoulder injury.

Running back Marcus Lattimore has 69 carries, 320 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 93 yards. Other than Shaw, no other rusher has more than 16 carries. Receiver Damiere Byrd has 7 catches, 214 yards, and a touchdown. Bruce Ellington has 10 catches for 178 yards. Rory Anderson has 6 catches, 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ace Sanders has 8 catches, 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Kentucky is 1-3 this season under coach Joker Phillips. Blowout losses at top 20 teams Louisville 32-14 and Florida last week 38-0 can be excused, but the Wildcats have an embarrssing 32-31 overtime loss at home to Western Knetucky. The only win for the Wildcats came at home against Kent St 47-14. In last week’s Florida game, the Wildcats were never in it. Kentucky had just 219 total yards including 60 passing yards. The Wildcats had 3 turnovers, including a 26 yard pick six. The only bright spot (if you could even call it that) was Kentucky’s defense held Florida to 403 total yards, including 203 passing yards.

Kentucky is averaging 376 yards per game on offense, including 256.5 passing yards, and 119.5 rushing yards. The Wildcats are giving up 400 yards per game on defense including 209.2 passing yards, and 191 rushing yards. The pass defense is actually pretty good for Kentucky, but teams really don’t have to throw against the Wildcats because of the terrible run defense. Kentucky is being outscored 29-23 this season. The Wildcats are 1-3 ATS and the total is 3-1 this season.

Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith is probable despite a separated shoulder on his non-throwing arm. He has completed 102 of 149 passes (68.5%) for 966 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He missed the Florida game. If Smith can’t go, Morgan Newton or Jalen Whitlow will see some snaps. Running back Raymond Sanders has 26 carries, 201 yards, and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 33 yards. Jonathan George has 32 carries, 155 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 10 catches, 117 yards, and a touchdown. Receiver La’Rod King has 26 catches, 227 yards and 2 touchdowns. Aaron boyd has 18 catches, 168 yards and a touchdown. Demarco Robinson has 12 catches for 113 yards. DeMarcus Sweat only has 3 catches, but two of them have gone for touchdowns.

South Carolina has won 8 straight games dating back to last year. The Gamecocks are 5-0 ATS after a straight up win and on grass, 4-0 against teams with winning records, in September, and after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 5-1 overall, and 4-1 after allowing less than 20 points. The last 5 games in this series have gone over the total. South Carolina is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games in Lexington, and 5-2 overall against Kentucky.

Kentucky is 6-1 ATS at home against teams with winning road records, 5-1 after a straight up loss, after failing to cover, and after scoring less than 20 points, and 1-5 in September.

South Carolina has been very careful with star running back Lattimore, as he is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL almost a year ago. He had 21 carries for 85 yards with two touchdowns last week against Missouri. That was his most carries this season. He could have a breakout game against the porous Kentucky run defense. This isn’t a good match-up for Knetucky. Even if Smith can go, we don’t know how long he can go, or how effective he will be. The only way South Carolina doesn’t roll in this game is if they are looking ahead to games against Georgia and LSU in the next two weeks.

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