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Chick-fil-A Bowl: South Carolina vs FSU Preview & Pick

Chick-fil-A Bowl Betting – South Carolina vs Florida St. Betting

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South Carolina vs Florida State Preview & Pick

Date: Friday, December 31, 2010
Venue: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Broadcast: ESPN
South Carolina Gamecocks vs Florida State Seminoles Betting Lines from Betus.com
Money Line: South Carolina -155, Florida State +135
Spread: South Carolina -3
Over/Under: 54.5
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(19) South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4)

Oh, the life of an SEC team. In other conferences – perhaps the ACC? – the South Carolina Gamecocks could’ve been a power for all we know. They still reached the SEC title game but, in the end, playing in such a brutal conference kept the Gamecocks out of a BCS bowl. Of their four losses, two came to Auburn and one came to Arkansas.

Sharing a conference with those two opponents meant facing two of the country’s elite quarterbacks, Auburn’s Cameron Newton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. It thus should come as no surprise that South Carolina ranks horribly against the pass this season, clocking in at 107th with 253.6 yards allowed per game. The Gamecocks are very effective at stopping the run, however, ranking seventh in the nation with 102.8 yards allowed per contest.

South Carolina’s offense wasn’t as dominant as you might think given head coach Steve Spurrier’s reputation but it was balanced and generally effective, cracking the top 60 in rushing and passing while averaging 32 points per game.

Stephen Garcia has been solid under center for the Gamecocks but the focal point of their offense is Marcus Lattimore. He had more than 1,500 total yards as a runner and receiver and tallied 19 touchdowns this year.

(23) Florida State Seminoles (9-4)

Florida State doesn’t exactly power into the Chick-fil-A Bowl riding a high. The Seminoles were in good shape for a major bowl game a few months back after starting 6-1. But they were a rollercoaster down the stretch, going 4-3. Injuries were part of the problem; starting quarterback Christian Ponder has fought elbow pain all year and one of Seminoles’ featured runners, Jermaine Thomas, labored through a knee injury.

Defensively, Florida State had the bend-but-don’t-break mentality this season. It was a disappointing 65th against the pass but was 30th in run defense and only allowed 19.8 points per game. The Seminoles were also a pretty decent rushing team on offense; five different players ran for at least four scores, including ponder, and top two rushers Ty Jones and Chris Thompson both averaged more than six yards per carry.

The pick:

I actually expect a low-scoring affair here. Both teams tend to run the ball better than they pass it and both teams play better run defense than pass defense – especially South Carolina. The onus will be on Garcia and Ponder to provide the fireworks.

To me, that gives the edge to Ponder. He has a bit more experience being “the guy” in his offense. He heated up despite his elbow injury down the stretch, throwing eight touchdown passes versus one interception over this last four starts. He also tossed three touchdown passes in his last game against a very good Florida defense.

We already know that South Carolina struggles mightily to stop the pass, so I like Ponder to lead the Seminoles to a minor upset in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

South Carolina vs Florida State prediction: Florida State 24, South Carolina 21

Money Line: Florida State +135
Spread: Florida State +3
Over/Under: UNDER 54.5

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.