This line has only moved a point in South Carolina’s direction since the beginning of the week, which is a bit surprising considering LSU quarterback Myles Brennan wasn’t ruled out because of injury until Thursday.
This tells us one of two things: (1) Oddsmakers had some inside information on the seriousness of Brennan’s injury (always possible), or (2) they don’t believe there’s too much of a dropoff from Brennan to TJ Finley, who will start in Brennan’s place, or Max Johnson, who also might see time.
Either way, it makes for a surprising line on a game that feels like LSU should be the underdog. The Tigers have underperformed most of the year on defense and will be playing two quarterbacks with zero collegiate game experience. The Gamecocks had a big win against Auburn last week and seem to be riding a wave of momentum.
So what gives? Well, LSU is still more talented at nearly every position, if you believe recruiting rankings and NFL draft projections, and they are at home. Tiger Stadium still packs some punch, even with reduced capacity.
The other factor is that oddsmakers rarely care about abstract notions like “momentum.” It’s fickle, hard to place a number on and generally not predictive.
Meanwhile, the game’s over/under has actually risen from its opening total of 54½; it’s now either 55 or 55½, depending on where you shop. That’s also a bit surprising given Brennan’s absence, but keep in mind that more turnovers also can quickly increase point totals.
Elsewhere, the Big Ten finally begins play this week, with Ohio State listed with 3/1 odds to win the national title by FanDuel. The Buckeyes join Clemson (3/2) and Alabama (3/1) as heavy favorites. Georgia is next at 16/1, followed by Florida (25/1) and Penn State (30/1).
PICK OF THE WEEK: Oklahoma -6½ at TCU (11 a.m., ABC)
THIS SEASON: 2-1