NCAA Football Week 1 Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks
Thursday, 8/29/13, 6:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  South Carolina -10.5
Current Betting Line:  South Carolina -10.5
Opening Total:  56.5
Current Total:  56.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The South Carolina Gamecocks have one of the best players in college football in DE Jadeveon Clowney
The South Carolina Gamecocks have one of the best players in college football in DE Jadeveon Clowney

North Carolina has posted five consecutive winning seasons, at it looks to pick up a season-opening victory over an FBS school for the first time since beating Tulsa in 2000.  The Tar Heels are led by quarterback Bryn Renner, who has thrown for 54 touchdown passes in the last two years combined—becoming the only player in school history to throw for 20 or more scoring strikes in multiple seasons.  North Carolina is 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS as underdogs since 2011, with the OVER going 4-1 in that situation.

The Tar Heels ranked first in the ACC and 20th in the country with 16 interceptions a year ago, which can’t be ignored when making your NCAA football picks Thursday night.  North Carolina returns seven defensive starters, including all four starters in last season’s secondary.  The program is 2-8 all-time in games against ranked teams when opening up a new campaign.  All eyes will be on senior A.J. Blue and sophomore Romar Morris, as they attempt to replace standout Giovani Bernard, who will be playing in the NFL this season.

South Carolina is 79-36-4 in 119 season openers, including 13 consecutive victories in that situation, which is important to consider when looking over the NCAA football odds page.  The Gamecocks will likely come away triumphant in this spot due to head coach Steve Spurrier’s 22-1 all-time record when starting a new campaign, including a 8-0 mark during his time in Columbia.  South Carolina is 1-2 as home favorites of 10.5 to 14 points the last two campaigns, with the OVER going 2-1 in those three opportunities.

The Gamecocks are 8-2 in Thursday night tilts under Spurrier, including a 5-1 record at Williams-Brice Stadium.  South Carolina made just one coaching change during the offseason, as veteran defensive line coach Brad Lawing left for Florida.  Fans are excited to see junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney back on the field, as he’ll likely be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Quarterback Connor Shaw will lead the offense—completing 66.8 percent of his passes since making his team debut in 2010.

Sports bettors will likely back the Gamecocks due to their 5-1 ATS mark versus ACC opponents.

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