South Carolina football: Gamecocks open as home underdogs

Head coach Will Muschamp of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Head coach Will Muschamp of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The South Carolina football team will be underdogs in its season opener.

It’s game week in the Southeastern Conference, and the South Carolina Gamecocks are preparing for a season opening matchup against the Tennessee Volunteers. According to the line released by MyBookie, the Gamecocks will open up as home underdogs.

Tennessee is currently listed as a three-point favorite as they get ready to travel to Williams-Brice Stadium for a primetime contest Saturday night. The Vols return quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and running back Eric Gray on an offense that could be pretty electric behind a veteran offensive line.

It should be strength versus strength as the Carolina defense appears to be the team’s best unit, particularly the secondary. Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu are back, both eyeing All-SEC production and NFL futures. The Gamecocks return major contributors as every level of the defense.

On offense, South Carolina brings back quarterback Ryan Hilinski, though we found out last week that he would not open the year as the starter. Graduate transfer Collin Hill will take the first snap under center when the Gamecocks take on the Vols. Hill is recovering from his third major knee surgery, but has proven productive when healthy.

Hill, a native of upstate South Carolina, followed the Gamecocks’ new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo from Colorado State in January. His firm grasp on the playbook and familiarity with Bobo’s offense certainly played a role in Hill’s winning the job.

Over three seasons with the Rams, Hill threw for 3,320 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was off to the best start of his career in 2019, before going down with an injury in Colorado State’s third game of the year. Prior to the injury, Hill had tallied two 300-yards games and an 8:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Tennessee took last year’s meeting with a 41-21 win in Knoxville. After jumping out to a 21-17 halftime lead, South Carolina was held scoreless over the entire second half. Tennessee used two scores on special teams to separate, and Jarrett Guarantano threw for 229 yards to help the Vols pull away. The win ended a three-game South Carolina series winning streak.

This game is setting up to be a defensive struggle, especially given the fact that the Gamecocks are installing a new offense. This has been an incredibly competitive series of late, with each team having won four games apiece since 2012. Last year’s matchup was the first since 2011 to be decided by more than one score, with six of the last eight meetings have been decided by three points or less.

South Carolina will hope to pull the upset as they look to avenge the loss from a year ago.

Next. Gamecock football: 5 bold predictions for 2020. dark