Surging Gamecocks impress Vegas, nation

USC now with 7-to-1 odds to win the BCS championship

jkendall@thestate.comOctober 12, 2012 

There may be no greater indicator of the success South Carolina has had this season than the angst the No. 3 Gamecocks have caused in Las Vegas.

South Carolina started the season with 50-to-1 odds of winning the national title. After winning their first six games in impressive fashion, the Gamecocks are now 7-to-1 to win the BCS championship, and Las Vegas oddsmakers still are scrambling to keep up with the skyrocketing expectations for the team.

“South Carolina, a team that has been a second- or third-tier team there, middle of the pack, it’s hard for (oddsmakers) to say, ‘Gosh, these guys are really good,’ and bump up their numbers that high. It’s just a drastic change that they don’t like to make,” said David Purdum, senior writer for the Linesmakers at the Sporting News “They like to rely on their numbers, and they are scared to make big bumps.”

They are having to now, though. LSU, ranked No. 9 and coming off a loss to Florida, opened the week as a six-point favorite over South Carolina, but the line immediately began to move in favor of the Gamecocks. It stood at 2.5 Thursday.

Home-field advantage, which the Tigers have in spades in Baton Rouge, La., is traditionally worth three points in oddsmaking.

“We are below a field goal in Baton Rouge, which is pretty remarkable considering at the beginning of the year what people would have thought about this line,” Purdum said. “There is money coming in on South Carolina, no doubt.

“Going from six down to 2.5, when you cross that really key number of three, that takes what we call significant money or influential money, these are the guys that the books respect, and when they make a play, they move the line on that play.”

Coach Steve Spurrier, no stranger to the spotlight, has noticed his team is making a move on the national stage, he said.

“We are getting some national attention,” Spurrier said. “That’s what we all like, but it can turn south on you if you don’t watch it. We’re just trying to guard against going south and we’re totally ready to play this week. This is a good team. This a team that could do some stuff, but we’ve got a lot of good teams to play in the next four weeks. We’ll try to do our best and see what happens.”

The Gamecocks’ national ranking is their second-highest in history. They were No. 2 for one week in 1984 before losing to Navy. Spurrier was asked this week about the possibility his team could reach the No. 1 ranking before the end of the season.

“That’s not anything we’re thinking about,” Spurrier said. “You seen our schedule? All we know is we have a chance for a special year, a so-so year, a pretty good year.”

After the Gamecocks beat then No. 5 Georgia 35-7 this past Saturday, not many people think a “so-so” year still is a possibility.

USC plays at No. 4 Florida next week. The first BCS standings will be released on Sunday.

“South Carolina has impressed everybody,” Purdum said. “How could they not?”

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