South Carolina already has an outright win as an underdog after defeating North Carolina State 35-28 last Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Will Muschamp’s team scored first when Deebo Samuel took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. Samuel scored two more TDs on catches from sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley. Bentley threw three TD passes, further establishing himself as one of the Southeastern Conference’s top quarterbacks.
Bentley has weapons galore, including Samuel, wide receiver Bryan Edwards, tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Rico Dowdle.
The Gamecocks now are getting 3 points Saturday at Missouri.
Missouri’s offense is thriving thanks to the combination of Drew Lock and J’Mon Moore, but Muschamp will have a great strategy for these playmakers. As for the Tigers’ defense, it’s simply an unmitigated disaster. This unit was awful in last week’s 72-43 win over FCS foe Missouri State.
The Missouri defense will be short-handed Saturday. Starting junior safety Cam Hilton will miss the first half because of a targeting call in the opener. Starting defensive linemen Nate Howard and A.J. Logan are out. Logan, who started all 12 games last season, is serving a six-game suspension.
I made South Carolina a 3½-point road favorite over the Tigers, who have lost 14 of their past 17 SEC games. The Gamecocks are poised to win outright again.
Five more plays (home team in CAPS):
CLEMSON (-5½) over Auburn — Clemson has a 31-22-1 record against the spread as a home favorite during Dabo Swinney’s tenure, and Auburn has limped to a 1-5 ATS mark in its past six as a road underdog. My only preseason question about Clemson was its inexperience at quarterback, but I came away from its blowout win over Kent State thinking Kelly Bryant is going to provide solid play. There’s nothing anti-Auburn about this play, but I’m not passing on Clemson laying such a small number under the lights at home.
Fresno State (+44) over ALABAMA — Nick Saban rarely covers the number in these situations, especially after a physical and emotional game like last week’s 24-7 win over Florida State. The Crimson Tide are 3-13 ATS as a favorite of 35 points or more.
NAVY (-11½) over Tulane — Navy is 9-3 versus the number in its past 12 as a home favorite. The Midshipmen enjoyed a 526-326 advantage in total offense in a 42-19 opening win at Florida Atlantic. Zach Abey was the catalyst with 235 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with 110 passing yards and another score. Navy should win by at least 21 points.
San Jose State (+26) over TEXAS — San Jose State is 5-2 ATS in its past seven as a double-digit underdog. The Spartans have covered their first two games and seem to have found a quarterback. Since coming off the bench vs. South Florida two weeks ago, redshirt freshman Montel Aaron has thrown four TD passes without an interception. Texas has lost 17 of its past 27 games and shouldn’t be such a big favorite. Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Hawaii-UCLA (Over 64) — UCLA’s epic comeback win over Texas A&M resulted in 89 combined points. Josh Rosen threw four TD passes in the fourth quarter alone. But the Bruins’ defense struggled against a Texas A&M offense that played two freshman quarterbacks. Hawaii has scored 38 and 41 points in its first two games.
Last week: 3-1-1 against the spread
Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Follow @vegasbedwards on Twitter.