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It’s finally here! College football is set to kick off on Thursday, and for the next three months Saturday’s have meaning once again. Headlining opening night is a battle in the SEC east division between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Gamecocks come into the 2012 college football season with a top-10 national rankings, and lofty expectations. That is due to the 11-win season that South Carolina achieved in 2011, along with a top-10 ranking in the final polls. Both were school records.
For Vanderbilt, long perceived as the perennial doormat of the division, that isn’t exactly the case anymore. Winning seasons and bowl appearances have been the story of the Commodores of late. And while they aren’t exactly being picked to win the East, Vanderbilt is expected to win some games.
Getting South Carolina at home on opening night in college football would certainly get the 2012 season off to a fantastic start should they spring the upset.
Oddsmakers at BetOnline Sportsbook have set South Carolina as a touchdown-favorite over Vanderbilt on the road. At the seven-point line, the Gamecocks will need to win by at least eight points to cover the line. A win by six points or less, and the Commodores get the win against the spread.
The over/under game total for this one has been set at 46 points.
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has been getting nothing but praise from head coach Steve Spurrier. So much so that Spurrier brought Shaw to SEC Media earlier this year, a move that typically hasn’t happened.
If Shaw is able to extend the passing game, that will certainly help running back and Heisman Trophy contender Marcus Lattimore. Of course, that is a two-way street. Lattimore in the back field dictates that opposing defense will have to focus on the run game.
Vanderbilt wasn’t exactly stout on defense last season, surrendering 22 points per game.
But the opening night atmosphere in Nashville will be electric, and the Commodores will try to use their home crowd to their advantage. To do so, Vanderbilt will need to get off to a good start to keep the crowd in the game. Talent for talent, the edge is in favor of South Carolina. The Commodores will need to put pressure on Shaw early and often, and try to make the quarterback force passes, and limit the game one dimension.
South Carolina and Vanderbilt kick off at 7pm ET on Thursday, with coverage picked up nationally on ESPN.