South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Date and Time: Saturday, December 29, 2018, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Opening CFB Odds: South Carolina -6, 55
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Virginia TV Coverage: ESPN
There weren’t many highlights for the Cocks in a season they thought they’d have more of a say in how the SEC East shaped up. After finishing up in second place a short season ago, South Carolina regressed to fourth with both Florida and Kentucky jumping them in the standings. While the offense took a big step forward in Jake Bentley’s junior campaign, the defense took a giant step back with the unit simply unable to handle opposing ground attacks. That’s not a good omen for them heading into this matchup against the Wahoos.
After rattling off three straight wins against Miami, Duke, and North Carolina, the Cavaliers found themselves in the driver’s seat of the Coastal with only a month’s worth of games remaining on the docket. Unfortunately, they only managed one win over that stretch with it coming against Liberty in a game they failed to cover as 24 point favorites. The loss to PITT was a gut punch but that cost them the division title, and falling to both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in overtime to close the year only threw salt on the open wound.
Matchup To Watch
The South Carolina offense ranked No. 35 overall with over 441 yards per game and ranked No. 39 in scoring with an average of 32.6 points per game. That offensive success was predicated upon Bentley and the Cocks passing game being able to get things done through the air. The junior gunslinger passed for just under 3,000 yards and tallied a decent 27:12 TD/INT ratio. His two favorite targets were Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards who combined for 114 receptions and nearly 1,700 receiving yards to go along with 18 TD. Unfortunately, Samuel will be skipping this game to prepare for the NFL Draft. That makes Bentley’s chore of dissecting Virginia’s defense all the more tough considering it only conceded 179.1 passing yards per game ( No. 11 ) and only 6.5 yards per pass attempt ( No. 28 ). SC’s ability to do its thing through the air will go a long way in deciding this game’s pointspread victor at the best sportsbooks.
Player To Watch
Bryce Perkins – While not the greatest of passers, Perkins still managed to throw for just under 2,500 yards and a 22:9 TD/INT ratio. That said, most of his passes were of the short variety evidenced by his 7.8 yards per pass attempt average. Where the JUCO transfer really stood out this season was as a ball carrier with the junior rumbling for 842 yards and 9 TD while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He rushed for over 300 yards and a touchdown in the Cavs final two games against the Yellow Jackets and Hokies, and will no doubt present South Carolina with a major headache as bad the Cocks were defending the run all season. SC ranked No. 101 in the nation against the run in allowing over 210 yards per game at 4.7 yards per carry ( No. 86 ). That output increased to 5.2 yards per carry when away from Columbia. Needless to say, but Perkins and Jordan Ellis figure to be major thorns in the side of the Gamecocks throughout the game’s entirety.
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As good South Carolina has been in the bowl season its last six appearances in going 5-1 SU and against the closing college football odds, I’m really digging the Cavaliers plus the points in this matchup. This is a team that really looked to have turned the corner early on before fizzling out when it mattered most down the stretch. While you’d think quite the opposite in most instances, UVA looks to be a team on the rise with most of the integral parts back next season. South Carolina was a major disappointment this season with it regressing in division play and failing to come through against all of its tougher opponents. Virginia possesses the defense to really give Bentley and company issues through the air. The same can’t be said of the Cocks who are going to get carved up on the ground. Virginia being one of the least penalized teams in the country is the cherry on top of this delicious sundae. The Wahoos will be hungry for a win and I think they get it!
CFB ATS Betting Pick: Virginia +6 & +195 at BookMaker.eu
CFB Score Prediction: Cavaliers 27 – Gamecocks 26