Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The SEC East race looked like it was going to be very interesting a few weeks ago. But, now the title may come down to the round robin between South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri. And, because South Carolina has already defeated Georgia, that means this Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Missouri could determine the division winner…even before we get to October!
How can that be?
Well, nothing’s locked into place obviously. There’s a lot of football to be played. And, South Carolina lost some margin for error when they lost their SEC opener to Texas A&M. But, that loss won’t hurt them if they win the rest of their games because they’d own tie-breakers over both Georgia and Missouri.
And, what had initially been shaping up as an exciting race has lost some luster.
*The media had been playing up Florida as an improving threat to make things interesting. Then the Gators looked awful in a fortunate overtime win over lowly Kentucky, before absolutely getting obliterated in the stats by Alabama. Maybe Florida can play spoiler. They’re not a contender given their current form.
*Tennessee impressed with a big early season win over Utah State. But, Utah State turned out to be nothing special. And, a road loss at Oklahoma suggested that the Vols aren’t quite ready to be a dangerous team in the East. Like Florida, they can spring an upset that spoils plans for other teams.
*Kentucky? We already called them lowly!
*Vanderbilt has completely fallen apart this year as their prior head coach left for Penn State at exactly the right time.
That’s your SEVEN teams! The round robin of South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri, the potential spoilers Florida and Tennessee, then the likely distant also-rans Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Maybe Kentucky really is equal to Florida and can be a one-game spoiler.
That sets up Saturday’s big game. Let’s review what both teams have done this season.
Head Coach: Gary Pinkel
Quarterback: Maty Mauk (Sophomore, disappointing numbers considering hype)
Missouri (-25) beat South Dakota State 38-18
Missouri (-3.5) won at Toledo 49-25
Missouri (-10) beat Central Florida 38-10
Missouri (-14) lost at home to Indiana 31-27
Missouri spent their first three games overachieving their raw stats thanks to a big turnover advantage and drive efficiency. That disappeared vs. Indiana, who’s a sub-par team from the slumping Big 10. To this point, the Tigers are clearly well behind last year’s team in terms of skill sets and true championship danger. Missouri legitimately won the East, and put on quite a show vs. Auburn in the title tilt. This year’s team lost at home to Indiana!
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-1)
Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Quarterback: Dylan Thompson (Senior, productive)
South Carolina (-9) lost at home to Texas A&M 52-28
South Carolina (-14) beat East Carolina 33-23
South Carolina (+6) beat Georgia 38-35
South Carolina (-23) won at Vanderbilt 48-34
Tough to grade Thompson because the team is only 1-3 against market expectations…yet they’re obviously scoring points given the margins above. The quarterback has to get credit when you win a shootout vs. Georgia and score 48 in the letdown spot (granting some cheap points in the mix). Defense has been a legit concern, though facing A&M and Georgia within the first three games of the season would challenge anyone this year. South Carolina clearly has the better offense when you dig deeper into yardage stats. Can you trust their defense to cover as a favorite? They haven’t done it yet in 2014!
Las Vegas Line: South Carolina by 5.5, total of 62
JIM HURLEY may or may not be including this game in his final mix of Saturday bombshells. He does have an inkling of how this one is going to play out. But, NETWORK customers get ONLY THE BEST! You can purchase the final word for Saturday any time before the early kickoffs right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Don’t forget that the baseball playoffs start in just a few days!
Another college football preview is on tap tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK, when we look at Notre Dame/Syracuse in the most publicized prime time game on the card. You know it’s not a week of TV blockbusters when Notre Dame/Syracuse is the thriller! Maybe we can find some keys to thrill you in that preview. It’s back to the NFL Sunday and Monday when we look at the prime time games featuring New Orleans at Dallas and New England at Kansas City.
Missouri/South Carolina proves that big things can happen in September. Be sure you’re winning BIG MONEY with proven winner JIM HURLEY!