Spread: Alabama (-26)
Time and Location: 3:30 ET, Columbia, South Carolina
The Tide rolled again on Saturday, an occurrence that has become expected with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm. The junior quarterback threw for only 227 yards, but was efficient, scoring 3 times on 16 completions. He also added another score on a 25 yard rush.
Tua’s receivers were on their game as his first “pass” was thrown backwards, caught by Henry Ruggs III, and taken 75 yards to the house. Tua hit Jerry Jeudy twice and Ruggs another time for touchdowns.
Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. split a majority of the rushes, but it was Keilan Robinson that finished the game with the most yards totalling 80, 75 of which were on the same run for a touchdown. Combined, the three racked up 205 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Alabama’s defense feasted upon a weak New Mexico State team that only totalled 262 yards and 10 points. 101 yards came on the ground while the other 161, including the lone touchdown, came in the air.
The defense made big plays too. There were 3 forced fumbles, 2 of which were recovered, while Patrick Surtain II picked off his first pass of the season. Xavier McKinney continues his dominance as he led the team with 6 tackles.
In the light of the saddening news that Jake Bentley will be out for the season, the Gamecocks rallied with an incredible performance. The Gamecocks scored 10 touchdowns, 8 of which came on the ground. The SEC is proud.
Apart from an interception, Ryan Hilinski was fantastic in his debut. He threw for almost 300 yards, tossing 2 touchdowns to Bryan Edwards. Hilinski passed at an 80 percent clip.
The running game was incredible. 493 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 5 different scorers. Hilinski, Dakereon Joyner, and Mon Denson all scored one, Rico Dowdle scored two, and Kevin Harris led the team with 147 yards and three touchdowns. What a performance.
The defense did its part well enough. The pass stop was great, allowing only 72 yards all game. The Gamecocks also intercepted three passes. Cam Smith led the team with 6 tackles.
Analysis and Pick
It goes without saying that Alabama is at a different level than Charleston, but in the same breath you can’t neglect the fact that South Carolina has proved themselves to be much better than New Mexico State. While Alabama might not be pushed in this game, they will face their first test of the year.
The Alabama defense isn’t invincible this year and can be scored on. This run game is very strong and should be able to come up with at least some production. Hilinski has also shown elite accuracy and could go for a score if he gets into a rhythm.
That being said, Alabama has a bunch of absolute assassins on offense. Tua can bomb it and he has a bunch of receivers that can flat out go and get it. The run game hasn’t blown up yet, but we know they can.
Here’s where we run into the issue. My first thought when I saw this game was 42-17. When you add that up you get 59. I have a hard time seeing either team go higher than this number in SEC play.
With a young QB, South Carolina is going to rely heavily on their running game, slowing the pace down considerably. Alabama will probably let it fly, but South Carolina has a pretty good secondary and will make it tough on him.
I don’t see this game becoming a race to 50 so I’m taking the under. Bama should be able to cover the spread, but considering the stir over the heat, it’s possible that they just get a comfortable lead then play prevent defense. I’m staying away from the spread at this number due to the heat and the away game for Bama, but I’d take South Carolina covering if it gets any wider.