For the first time since 2005, seven games ago in this series, neither of these two sports a national ranking. Last year, at Williams-Brice, the 3-point-underdog Gamecocks won, 30-22.
Tigers quarterback Bo Nix threw for 272 yards in that one, with one touchdown pass and three interceptions. Regrettably, he was lost for the remainder of the season last week with a broken ankle bone that required surgery.
We’re banking on South Carolina tailbacks Kevin Harris and Zaquandre White to control this game on the ground.
Our Pick: South Carolina +7.5 (-110)
Auburn Tigers (6-4)
Nix had been knocked plenty during his career at Auburn. After last week, however, his toughness cannot be doubted or questioned after taking a lick to his right leg from Mississippi State defensive tackle Jaden Crumady.
The hit broke a bone in that ankle, which went under the knife Monday. Cleared by Auburn medical personnel, Nix had returned to the game and played in the ensuing three drives before leaving for good. The god-fearing quarterback is in excellent spirits and looking forward to returning next season.
Now TJ Finley, a sophomore transfer from LSU, gets his first start in a Tigers uniform. In parts of six games this season, he’s thrown for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Jarquez Hunter, a true freshman tailback from Philadelphia, Miss., is tied for eighth nationally with 7.2 yards per carry, so he might be asked to carry much more of the load against South Carolina.
There isn’t much about the Auburn defense that shines, but it is sticky on fourth down. It doesn’t get to opposing quarterbacks very well, and it allows them to complete two-thirds of their attempts, among the nation’s bottom 10 percent.
Also note that kicker Anders Carlson, 35-for-36 on extra points and 14-for-21 on field-goal attempts, is out after having suffered a knee injury on last week’s late onside-kick attempt.
South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5)
The Gamecocks have quarterback issues of their own, as senior Jason Brown, an FCS transfer, will be their third starter this season.
Look for Harris and White to get their numbers called frequently.
Harris has dashed for triple-digit yardage six times, including 243 in a defeat at Ole Miss last season. In a 40-17 victory over Florida two weeks ago, the junior from Hinesville, Geo., ran 16 times for 128 yards.
Also against the Gators, White, a senior from Cape Coral, Fla., chewed up 111 yards on 13 carries. The Florida State transfer had 128 in the season-opening triumph over Eastern Illinois.
Finley, the Auburn QB, will do well to avoid Gamecocks defensive back Jaylan Foster, tied with three others atop the country with five interceptions and a top-11 national tackler.
We’d feel stronger about South Carolina, but anyone losing to Missouri creates more questions than answers.
Auburn At South Carolina Sports Betting Odds
Sports Betting Recommendation
Both ground games figure to dominate in a national ESPN game that will probably be ugly. The total has dipped, from 47.5 to 44.5, and we will give that under a half-unit consideration, but our main action here is taking the points.
The reason this one even appears on our radar is due to our models showing Auburn victories by five, three, and three points. However, we can envision a Gamecocks victory and will also consider a half-unit on their moneyline.
But the one we’re taking to the bank is South Carolina plus the points.