College football odds: Tennessee at No. 13 South Carolina

The SEC championship hopes of South Carolina are gone, but the Gamecocks could still make themselves very attractive as a potential at-large BCS bowl team if they can win out starting Saturday vs. sliding Tennessee. USC is a 14-point favorite.

The Gamecocks were embarrassed last week 44-11 by Florida for their second loss in a row. South Carolina fumbled four times and lost three, two of which led directly to Florida touchdowns. The Gators managed just 29 yards and two first downs in the first half against South Carolina (6-2, 4-2). But they led 21-6 thanks to three turnovers. USC QB Connor Shaw completed 9-of-20 passes for 72 yards. He was benched in the second half, replaced by Dylan Thompson. Thompson completed 8-of-20 passes for 83 yards, with an interception. The Gators held South Carolina to 191 yards, including minus-1 in the third quarter. Marcus Lattimore, who didn’t start because of a hip injury, ran just three times for 13 yards

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier expects Lattimore back in the starting lineup this week against Tennessee. Spurrier said Sunday it didn’t make sense to send Lattimore back into the game and risk aggravating the injury once the Gators opened a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

Tennessee still hasn’t beaten a ranked team under Derek Dooley, who probably gets his walking papers after this season. The Vols lost their third straight last week, falling 44-13 to Alabama. Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) had scored at least 31 points in each of its first six games, but the Volunteers couldn’t muster much offense against the top-ranked Tide. Tyler Bray went 13 of 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes for Tennessee. Tennessee has lost 11 of its last 12 SEC games and is 0-14 against the Top 25 since Dooley took over the program in 2010.

Dooley suggested Monday that if Bray does not improve his performance he will be benched.

“If he is loose with the ball, he’s coming out of the game and we’re going to play (Justin) Worley,” Dooley said. “And I told him that.” The head coach also called Bray’s postgame actions “unacceptable” after the quarterback refused to talk with reporters.

Saturday’s game marks the 31st all-time meeting between Tennessee and South Carolina. The Vols are 22-6-2 vs. the Gamecocks in the all-time series despite losses in the last two matchups. UT won a series-best 12 consecutive games over South Carolina from 1993-2004.

Since 2000, no matchup in the SEC has a narrower average margin of victory than the 9.17 between Tennessee and South Carolina. In the last 10 meetings from 2002-11, the game has been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter six times and has gone to overtime twice (2007, 2003).

South Carolina has more total offense than the Vols in nine consecutive meetings since 2003, but UT is 5-4 vs. the Gamecocks in those nine meetings. Tennessee’s last win over a ranked team was against No. 21 South Carolina, 31-13, on Halloween night (Oct. 31) in 2009 at Neyland Stadium. The Vols’ last win over a top 20 team in the regular season also came against No. 15 South Carolina, a 27-24 win on Oct. 27, 2007, in Knoxville. trends: Volunteers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings in South Carolina. Favorite is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings. Road team is 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 meetings.

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