South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt Free Pick by Jimmy Boyd – September 1, 2016
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Free Pick
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, September 1, 2016
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
By Jimmy Boyd
It might not show in the win column, but Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason has this team moving in the right direction. I look for the Commodores to take another big step in 2016 and really surprise some people with how much better they are.
South Carolina on the other hand is in a major rebuilding phase with only 9 starters back. Not to mention they will be adjusting to new systems on both sides of the ball. It’s unclear who will be the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks. It’s down to senior Perry Orth and true freshman Brandon McIlwain.
Either way I think advantage goes to Vanderbilt. Orth doesn’t really do anything great. McIlwain on the other hand would be making his first ever start on the road in a conference game. Chances are whoever starts is going to struggle.
Vanderbilt has 7 starters back on a defense that shined last year. The Commodores only gave up 21.0 ppg and 351 ypg. Pretty impressive given how the offense struggled to stay on the field.
I look for big improvements on offense for Vandy this season. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur guided the Commodores to two conference wins last year. Doing so as a true freshman. He should be even better and that’s going to make everyone else around him play with more confidence.
The Gamecocks were 0-5 in true road games last year. Their biggest problem away from home being their defense, which gave up 32.7 ppg and 482 ypg on the highway. With only 5 starters back on that side of the ball, the defense will struggle again in 2016.
You also have to factor in the motivational angle here for Vanderbilt. They haven’t beat South Carolina since 2007. That’s 7 straight losses against a division rival. They were painfully close last year in Columbia, losing 10-19, despite leading 10-6 midway through the 4th quarter. They turned it over 5 times and the Gamecocks only touchdown game on a 78 yard pass. The Commodores feel like they should have won that game and will be as motivated as ever to end the streak with this being their home opener.
The Gamecocks are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games played in September. Vanderbilt on the other hand is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 in September. The Commodores are also 13-6 ATS in their last 19 conference games. Take Vanderbilt for the easy cover on Thursday!
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