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SEC’s Surging Gamecocks visit slumping Tigers

Last week we questioned whether LSU had enough to handle Florida. The answer was no. We also suggested that if the Tigers did struggle with the Gators, it could be in serious trouble thanks to the emergence of South Carolina and Georgia. This week, we get to see if that was an accurate analysis, as the No. 3 South Carolina heads to Death Valley to play No. 9 LSU.

Surging Gamecocks

Connor Shaw and the South Carolina Gamecocks made a statement in beating Georgia last weekend.

It was supposed to be a close game (two-points said the oddsmakers) but South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 SEC) made sure it was anything but. The Gamecock’s 35-7 victory over the then No. 5 ranked Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) was nothing short of dominant.

Behind Connor Shaw’s 162 yards passing and 78 yards passing, which accounted for three touchdowns all told, and an overpowering performance on the defensive side of the ball, South Carolina made a stake for being the best team in the SEC East, and maybe the SEC.

The victory pushed South Carolina to its highest AP ranking since 1984, a season in which the Gamecocks began 7-0. That’s a good omen as the team looks ahead to this weekend.


Slumping Tigers

Louisiana State (5-1, 1-1 SEC) meanwhile continued to struggle, losing a tough encounter at Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC).

The invincibility the Tigers showed for the entirety of last year – BCS Championship Game aside – has been lacking this season, with Auburn and Towson both keeping games closer than most expected. A loss to the Gators though puts a serious question mark beside LSU’s name.

LSU’s two main faults were on display in Gainesville. The team rushed for just 42 yards total, while QB Zach Mettenberger struggled passing the football long. His final tally of 158 yards on 11/25 passing with one interception was simply not good enough.

Florida by no means looked dominant, but racking up 176 yards on the ground was enough to grind out a victory, and a victory in the sort of game LSU previously flourished in.


Saturday, Saturday, Saturday

Zach Mettenberger and the LSU Tigers need a victory this coming weekend if they're to remain in the hunt for the SEC and a National Championship.

The two sides collide Saturday night (8 PM ET) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The Gamecocks will be riding high on  a wave of momentum while the Tigers will be looking to right the ship, particularly as the next three are all against ranked opponents (No. 22 Texas A&M, No. 1 Alabama, and No. 19 Mississippi State).

LSU opened as four-point favorites but this has fallen as low as 2 ½-points with some oddsmakers.

The Tigers will look to take advantage of a stellar home record that has seen the team win 21 straight at home and 24 of the last 25. LSU is also 4-0-1 against South Carolina in their past five meetings, numbers that should comfort bettors.

But this season, LSU has struggled against the spread. The Tigers are 2-5 ATS in the last seven, and haven’t beaten the spread since September 15. Poor showings against Auburn and Towson followed by last week’s loss to Florida have hurt those betting in favor of the Tigers.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is 5-1 ATS this season, only failing to beat the spread in Week 1’s matchup with Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 road games, that loss coming at then-No. 8 ranked Arkansas last November.

The over/under is 42 ½. Bettors should pay close attention to the fact that the total has gone under in three of the last five LSU games.

Whichever side you’re backing, there’s no denying this game could have huge implications in the SEC. Another loss for LSU practically eliminates the Tigers from National Championship talk, while a win for the Gamecocks will almost certainly see the team jump to number two in the polls, with Oregon idle this weekend. That could even be a number one ranking if Alabama was to be upset by Ole Miss.

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