What Vegas thinks: Gamecocks the favorite

jkendall@thestate.comDecember 31, 2012 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • Outback Bowl WHO: USC (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) WHEN: 1 p.m., Jan. 1 WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 LINE: South Carolina by 6

In our final visit of the season with gaming industry journalist David Purdum (@DavidPurdum on Twitter), we talk about how Las Vegas likes South Carolina to handle Michigan in the Outback Bowl (the Gamecocks are a 6-point favorite), how well the Gamecocks have played of late as the favorite and the national trend that is keeping Vegas scurrying to keep up.

Obviously Las Vegas feels pretty good about the Gamecocks’ chances of winning this game, right David?

Yeah, it opened up at 4.5 at the Las Vegas Wynn that Monday after the bowl games became official. There has been a little bit of money on South Carolina. Michigan was one of those teams that had a lot of hype early, at least from the bettors. They had the third-most betting tickets placed on them to win the national championship game right behind Florida State and Southern Cal. There was a lot of hype and they haven’t quite lived up to it.

You mentioned to me earlier that South Carolina has done well of late as a favorite. Can you explain that more for us?

Absolutely, 19-1 in their last 20 as a favorite, which is pretty strong. Obviously you are supposed to win the games you’re favored in, but 19-1 is significant, and they have covered the spread in 13 of those 20 so that’s a profitable trend as well.

As we look around the league, every SEC team in a bowl game is a favorite. Is that surprising to you? Have we seen that before?

I’m sure we’ve seen it in years past. It’s not surprising. The closest one is Mississippi State and Northwestern. Mississippi State is only a two-point favorite in that one. The SEC is the superior conference. Its straight up record in non-conference games against FBS is 31-8 this year so they just rarely slip up. In bowl games entering this year since 2004, they are 37-28 against the spread. That’s the best bowl benchmark of any conference. Sportsbooks, even if they keep inflating SEC numbers like they should, aren’t doing it well enough.

As you look at national trends this season, was there anything that surprised you?

The points. The over/under total was up significantly this year. The average over about the last five years was in the 53-54 point range. I think the average over/under total set in Vegas this year for bowls was over 57. That’s over a field goal more. They are seeing all these points scored and they are trying to react. The points are the big trend I have seen.

Is that a trend you see continuing into next season?

Defensive coordinators just don’t have any answers right now. Up tempo, they are getting so many plays off. We’re seeing an evolution of football. It’s kind of neat to watch.

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