The South Carolina Gamecocks and Vanderbilt Commodores are equally desperate to get a win in this week’s game between the two SEC East foes. Game time is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, November 2 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Fans can watch the game on the SEC Network.
According to the Week 10 college football odds, the Gamecocks are heavy 15.5-point favorites at home against Vanderbilt. The over/under for this matchup is set at 51 points.
Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks got a huge boost to their bowl hopes when they upset Georgia a few weeks ago. Unfortunately for South Carolina, they’ve failed to build on the momentum of that win, losing to Florida and Tennessee the past two weeks. Last week’s 41-21 loss to Tennessee was particularly troubling, as the Gamecocks led at halftime only to be outscored 24-0 in the second half.
That loss leaves South Carolina at 3-5 heading into the final month of the season. With home games against undefeated Clemson and Appalachian State and a road game against Texas A&M on their schedule, winning three more games will be no easy task. If the Gamecocks lose to Vanderbilt on Saturday, their bowl hopes for 2019 will be all but over.
Vanderbilt is in a similar position, as the Commodores begin November at 2-5. Losses to Purdue and UNLV have thrown Derek Mason and company off track from reaching a bowl game for the second straight season. However, the Commodores threw themselves a lifeline two weeks ago with an upset win over Missouri.
Of course, Vandy still needs to win four of their final five games to qualify for a bowl. With a road trip to Florida next week, Vanderbilt has little margin for error, making this week’s game against South Carolina a must-win to keep their bowl hopes alive.
The Commodores are also dealing with a 10-game losing streak against South Carolina. These teams have met every year since 1992 with Vandy scoring just four wins against the Gamecocks during that time. Vandy’s last win over South Carolina came in 2008 and their last win in Columbia was 2007. A year ago, Muschamp’s Gamecocks ran all over Mason and the Commodores in a 37-14 win in Nashville.
If you bought stock in South Carolina after that upset of Georgia, you probably have buyer’s remorse right about now. It’s hard to say what’s happened to the Gamecocks, especially since they played a good first half against Florida the week after beating Georgia. But the Gamecocks have struggled for the past six quarters, especially the second half last week against Tennessee. Coming off of that performance, it’s tough to lay down more than two touchdowns for the Gamecocks, even if I think South Carolina finds a way to win the game.
Despite all of the promise that freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski possesses, he’s yet to find consistency for the Gamecocks. There have been flashes of his potential, and to his credit, he’s done a nice job of avoiding turnovers. But his performance just hasn’t been good enough this season. Hilinski has thrown for less than 200 yards in every game this season before last week’s game with Tennessee when he threw for over 300 yards but failed to produce any points for South Carolina in the second half. He’s also thrown just four touchdown passes in his last five games.
To be fair, the Gamecocks have a solid running game that has been enough at times to keep them from asking too much of Hilinski. Unfortunately, Rico Dowdle is set to miss his second straight game due to a knee injury. That leaves it up to Tavien Feaster to carry the South Carolina offense. While Feaster has had a nice season, carrying the offense on his back has proven too much for him the past two weeks. But unless the Gamecocks can get more out of Hilinski and the passing game, they may not have much of a Plan B behind Feaster.
While the Vanderbilt defense has been blown out of the water a few times this year, they’ve been solid against the run. When the Commodores have struggled to contain teams, it’s usually been the secondary giving up big plays. That should be less of a concern this week, giving the Vandy defense a chance to hold South Carolina to a reasonable point total.
Of course, the Commodores are going to have to put some points on the board if they expect to stay within striking distance. Vandy has struggled to find consistent quarterback play this season. But they got a nice boost from Mo Hasan against Missouri. He split duties with Riley Neal to give the Commodores just enough at quarterback to complement workhorse back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. After the way the South Carolina defense was shredded last week by a pair of Tennessee backup quarterbacks, there’s some hope for the Vandy offense.
To be honest, a couple of weeks ago I would have had no problem laying down the points in this game. But it’s hard to trust South Carolina right now, especially as 15.5-point favorites. If it matters, I’m still not that high on Vanderbilt. But the Gamecocks have more than enough flaws to make me lean toward Vandy and the points.