Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

The South Carolina football team is looking to snap its seven-game losing streak to Texas A&M and give the school its first ever victory against the youngest member of the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3) are looking for their first SEC road win of the Shane Beamer era against an Aggies (5-2, 2-2) squad that has rattled off a couple of big lopsided wins in a row.

In this feature, staff writers Hale McGranahan and John Whittle, along with one of our moderators, Sinderella, give their predictions on the game. We also invite one of our VIP members to make his picks, and this week it’s GrumpyGamecock.

Morrell: Five Keys to Victory and prediction | Shurburtt: Prediction podcast

Check out our picks of South Carolina and Texas A&M, and we also weigh in on several of the top games from around the country.

Sinderella: Zaddy Zeb’s true Disney story (not the fluff piece that the upstate school has on there) is still being written. Zeb looked really good slinging the ole pigskin. His jersey on the other hand could’ve been a size or two bigger. Thanks to CockOfAges, Zeb’s new nickname is Mighty Righty. It’s a fun play-on term for the late Hefty Lefty. Anyways, I said last week that “if we don’t score at least three offensive touchdowns, I’m going back to making post after post talking about how bad Satterfield is.” Well, he did manage that, and I haven’t made one post about him, but comments will suffice. As for the Texas A&M game, well the past two weeks A&M beat Alabama and Missouri. The past two weeks we got boat raced by Tennessee and barely beat the worst P5 team in the country. Zach Calzada is looking good for A&M, and their defense is one of the best in the country. We are struggling to score points and get off the field on defense on third down. All of that adds up to another whopping by A&M. Texas A&M 42 – South Carolina 13

GrumpyGamecock: Whittle asked me nicely so here we go - doing this from my car to pay homage to the greatness of his weekly call in show coverage. Kinda chilly this evening so wearing a ski mask to keep my ears cozy. … We all know what Carolina’s offense is - and isn’t - at this point. Unfortunately the time for lights to come on and switches to magically flip was a few games back against ECU, or maybe Troy, or maybe Vanderbilt. Clayton White’s side of the ball has been a turnover generating machine, but the offense just can’t seem to get out of their own way and doesn’t know what to do with all those extra possessions. A&M started the season rough but apparently got all their stuff together enough to beat Alabama so this isn’t looking to swell for the good guys. Carolina gets another defensive score but it’s not enough. A&M covers. Texas A&M 42 – South Carolina 17

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Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

If South Carolina’s defense can put Texas A&M in third-and-long situations, the Gamecocks defense will have a good chance to get off the field. Otherwise, they’ll wear down at the end, especially if the offense is struggling to move the ball and score points.

Basically, if it looks anything like the last time they played in College Station, it’s going to be another long night with the Aggies.

That’s going to be a tough ask. Isaiah Spiller is third in the SEC with 659 yards. Devone Achane is second in the league with 6.86 yards per carry, which is just ahead of ZaQuandre White, who’s at 6.82 this season, and everyone knows how effective he’s been this season, when he’s actually had some touches. Achane has almost twice as many carries as White (66-34) this season. Spiller’s fourth in the SEC with 105 carries.

Oddly enough, Texas A&M’s only eighth in the SEC with nearly 174 yards per game. Maybe that’s a product of the slow pace move at on offense.

South Carolina’s giving up more than 151 yards per game. Georgia (184), Kentucky (230) and Tennessee (247) put up big numbers on the ground against the Gamecocks. If the defense can avoid another death by ball control outing at Kyle Field, that’ll give Zeb Noland a shot to get into a rhythm, stay in a rhythm and maybe even score a few touchdowns.

Keeping Noland upright will be critical. Texas A&M’s tied for second in the SEC with 21 total sacks and 3.00 sacks per game. That’s going to be another tough ask. Texas A&M 27 – South Carolina 17

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

There isn’t a game left on the schedule that won’t be incredibly tough for South Carolina, but this may be the toughest. The Gamecocks are facing a hot team that will be at home in front of a fired up, passionate fan base. It’s difficult, especially given that the Gamecocks aren’t in a good place offensively.

Last week was supposed to be a time when South Carolina could garner some momentum on the offensive side of the football. Every team has scored on Vanderbilt and put up big numbers, and then South Carolina showed up. Maybe the Commodores have gotten better, but it might just be that the Gamecocks just aren’t good enough on that side of the ball.

Zeb Noland takes over again this week from Luke Doty, who will miss the remainder of the season with a broken foot. Noland has a couple of victories under his belt, but neither were particularly inspiring. Of course, they don’t ask you “How” but just ask you “How many”. A win over the Aggies, regardless of what it looks like, would make five on the season for South Carolina, and one win short of bowl eligibility.

But for that to happen, the Gamecocks have to get something going to have to convert on opportunities offensively. This team just hasn’t scored touchdown, or points, for that matter, when chances have presented themselves. Whether it was the Kentucky game a few weeks back, or Tennessee or Vandy more recently, this offense just hasn’t been good enough when it needs to be good enough. The Gamecocks are ahead of only Vanderbilt in red zone scoring percentage, and have a touchdown percentage of less than 50 percent. Only twice in the last five seasons has an SEC team finished below 50 percent in red zone touchdown percentage.

The good news for the Gamecocks is that Texas A&M has put up some real clunkers offensively, too. Those struggles have been attributed to injuries, and the Aggies are healthier now and going in the right direction. After putting up 41 on Alabama and then 35 on Missouri, it seems like the home side should be alright on that side, but South Carolina has been opportunistic defensively and the Aggies have turned the ball over some.

South Carolina has played Texas A&M seven times, all being losses, with four being fairly close and three being blowouts. Make it four blowouts. Texas A&M 35 – Carolina 13

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Hale McGranahan: Every few weeks, Whittle throws in one of those WTF games. I guess he wanted a Friday night game in here or something, I don’t know. Two bad teams from the left coast in a game that should be on the Pac 12 Network, so we don’t have to watch it. This is a perfect take the under (46.5) and don’t watch it game. Go to bed early, get some good sleep and wake up Saturday morning to your first winner of the day. Washington 21 – Arizona 13

John Whittle: I don't care what everyone says about me. Sometimes bad Pac-12 games are actually great Pac-12 games. These are two really bad offenses going against each other, so I do actually agree with Hale on taking the under. But it might just be a lot of fun to watch a couple of inept offenses going at each other. Maybe it'll make you feel better about the Gamecocks? Arizona 18 - Washington 16

Sinderella: Whittle… what is this? Why this when Southern Cal vs Notre Dame is being played. Heck, give me Oregon vs UCLA. Or even Wisconsin vs Purdue. This is worse than the FCS game a few weeks back. All right, well… both teams suck, and they play in the PAC-12, so they suck even more. Washington 5 – Arizona 2 (Editors note: Because I wanted to, and that’s that.)

GrumpyGamecock: Anyone staying up for the 10:30 kick on a Friday night? Honestly I watch a lot of college football but haven’t seen either of these teams play because let’s be real, football that’s left of Texas on a map just hasn’t been that enthralling of late. Plus these two teams are somehow having worse seasons than we are. Stab in the dark here at Washington 28 - Arizona 17

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

HM: Just a couple of strong Big 12 defenses meeting up on a Saturday, just like God intended. I’m really feeling the unders this week. Let’s ride with this one (47.5), by taking the same score as last season, but changing the result. Iowa State’s been known to wreck a perfect season in Ames. Iowa State 24 – Oklahoma State 21

JW: This feels really weird with all four people taking an unranked team to beat an undefeated one. My sense going into this was to take the Cyclones, but I'm going to buck what the other guys are doing here. Oklahoma State isn't much offensively, but that defense is stout, which is why the 6-0 record. This is always a close, one-possession kind of game, and I think it will be again this week. Cowboys run the ball 50 times and win. Oklahoma State 23 - Iowa State 20

Sinderella: Oklahoma State is the Big12 version of Kentucky. They win every game close without doing much of anything. I’ve picked them to lose whenever we have picked their games, except the Boise State game. I’m 1-2 in their games and I’m going to get that to 2-2. Unranked 7-point favorite Iowa State beats #8 Oklahoma State. When was the last time a top 10 team was an underdog to an unranked team? Can someone look that up for me? Such a wild stat. Iowa State 26 – Oklahoma State 20

GrumpyGamecock: The Cowboys are unbeaten on one hand, but there’s Matt Campbell on the other - tough call here. Iowa State’s QB is playing Purdy good and they are favored by a TD, and Okie St. had eked out a few really close ones. Random thought, if your conference is falling apart around you does this still really count as a conference game? Anyways - Whittle says I have to pick a winner so Iowa State 27 - Oklahoma State 24

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

HM: It would’ve been cool to have HBO doing a ‘Hard Knocks’ series for this show. Shame on Matt Lindsey for not making this happen. Again, another under. That 76 is a lot, even for these two teams. Ole Miss has had two games this season to go over that. LSU’s had one and it was last week. And if Matt Corral really is hurt, at the very least banged up, then it’s definitely going under. Ole Miss 31 – LSU 28

JW: Lane Kiffin is always feeling himself, but when he's really feeling himself, like he is right now, something bad usually happens. I had LSU making one last stand for their head coach last week, but still losing. But this has been too emotional of a week and far too many questions for the program going forward. Kiffin has his team in the top 10 as the Rebs go to Auburn next week. Ole Miss 35 - LSU 20

Sinderella: I predicted LSU would lose big and Ed O would be fired last week. I went 1-1. LSU upset Florida and set a school rushing record, and Ed O still got fired (I know he is finishing the year, but it counts). So, the question is which LSU do we get? Pass happy or ground and pound? I want pass-happy LSU versus pass-happy Ole Miss. Ole Miss wins no matter which LSU they get. Ole Miss 44 – LSU 31

GrumpyGamecock: Grab your popcorn, mustard, and a bucket of range balls for this one. Ole Miss has put up a ton of points but not looked as great against better defenses. Fortunately for Lane, LSU doesn’t look like they’ve got a “better defense” after giving up over 40 points each to Kentucky and Florida. I think Ole Miss is better than both on offense and have been somewhat surprised with their defense. Plus with Ed O coaching with his walking papers in hand already who knows what kind of LSU team shows up. Ole Miss 45 - LSU 28

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

HM: Unders, baby. Ride this 51. Here’s what it one comes down to: Can Mississippi State score more than 30 and can Vanderbilt match the 20 they posted last week at Williams-Brice? The Bulldogs haven’t topped 30 since the season opener against Louisiana Tech. And they scored 30 or more points only twice in 2020. Over the last three seasons, the Commodores have scored more than 20 points against SEC teams four times. That’s out of 21 total games. Mississippi State 28 – Vanderbilt 14

JW: Here's the upset. This is the one that gets the the Survivor League down to just a few folks. The Commodores have endured some emotional games this season and last week's loss was brutal for Clark Lea's team. Vanderbilt 21 - Mississippi State 20

Sinderella: Vandy sucks. Will Rogers throws for 400+. Mississippi State 34 – Vanderbilt 17

GrumpyGamecock: Anchor Down! I don’t know why - maybe it’s because I want to think Vandy is better than they are because of last weekend, maybe it’s because streaks are made to be broken and their conference losing streak has to end sometime I guess, maybe it’s because Vandy’s coach looks like Voldemort wearing a prosthetic nose and I think he manages to figure out his dark magic this weekend but I’m taking the ‘Dores. Probably way wrong but in the immortal words of Todd Ellis WHO CARES! Vandy pulls the shocking upset as 20+ point dogs and wins. Vanderbilt 24 - Mississippi State 21

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

HM: After all that emotion on Saturday night, it’s going to be tough as hell for Tennessee to get back up and ready to roll against the machine in Tuscaloosa. It’s almost not fair. The over/under is 67.5 and even though Alabama isn’t a juggernaut on defense, I’m of the belief the Vols are going to have a difficult time doing their part on the scoreboard, especially with Hendon Hooker’s knee injury last week. Alabama 45 – Tennessee 21

JW: Last week was only the first of a four-game slide for the Vols. Last week was heartbreaking, this week will be bone-breaking. Crimson Tide are taking names the rest of the season after that loss to Texas A&M. Alabama 42 - Tennessee 20

Sinderella: The football game won’t be as interesting as seeing if/when some college student throws a golf ball or a thing of mustard at Tennessee’s sideline. Alabama beats Tennessee like Tennessee’s fans beat the spirit of Tennessee’s clean-up crew. Alabama 42 – Tennessee 24

GrumpyGamecock: My second most disliked shade of orange - the puke in a pumpkin shade - battles Bama. Or tries to. Nick Saban hasn’t forgotten and is still spooled up over their loss to A&M and Tennessee is already a much hated rival. Spark up those stogies at halftime because this one is over early. Alabama 48 - Tennessee 24

Final predictions: Carolina vs. Texas A&M

HM: Finally, Dabo Swinney can honestly talk about his team being an underdog. Doubted. Counted out. Left for dead. Nobody believes in them. He knows what that actually feels like, to really be in that position. His team? No, not even close. These are uncharted waters for these guys. Clearly, dudes are jumping off the boat left and right. The Return to Reality tour stops by Heinz Field this weekend. Pittsburgh 27 – Clemson 24

JW: I'm not going to be a part of a crew that makes picking against Clemson unanimous. Message boarders are going to be in upheaval if everyone picks Pitt and the Tigers end up winning. So I'll be the sacrificial lamb and take Swinney's boys. I'm not sure how that one is going to end up happening because the Tigers are down one of their top receivers this week, and they haven't been real good offensively anyway. Pittsburgh is at home, playing well and ready to roll. But I'm taking the Tigers, anyway. Clemson 20 - Pittsburgh 17

Sinderella: Clemson is an underdog in a regular ACC game for the first time since 2016. That was the Lamar Jackson-led Louisville squad. How insane is that? It makes sense though. Clemson’s offense, as crazy as it sounds, is worse than South Carolina’s. Pittsburgh's offense is one of the best in the country. Pitt has the #1 defense in the ACC to add to their unstoppable offense. Pittsburgh is only a 3-point favorite, but they are going to win by much more than that. Hammer Pitt and the points! Pittsburgh 31 – Clemson 17

GrumpyGamecock: The only consolation to our offensive woes is the fact that the taters are inexplicably worse. Pitt has looked solid this year and they can score points - they put up 41 in their only loss of the year and their lowest scoring game was 28 against Va Tech. The tater defense is still pretty good, but I think Pitt still scores and I don’t see DJ Uk, Ung, however the heck you spell his name, I don’t see him getting any better before Saturday. Opie cries and soils himself on national television, mumbles something about little ole Climpson, and they have three more guys transfer next week. Pittsburgh 27 - clemson 21