SEC play officially commences this weekend when the Missouri Tigers host the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 EST on Saturday, September 9 at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

This game opened as a PK, but with substantial betting going in Missouri’s favor, the Tigers are now 2.5-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 72 points. Click here for a full list of Week 2 betting odds and links to game previews.

South Carolina vs Missouri Betting Preview & Vegas Game Odds

Missouri’s season opener against FCS opponent Missouri State was like a continuation of last season. The Tigers had no problem scoring points on offense, but their defense could not stop anybody, as Missouri beat their in-state “rival” 72-43. When you consider that Missouri State has just five wins over the past two seasons, giving up 43 points is beyond unacceptable for any FBS team, much less one in the SEC.

The Gamecocks, on the other hand, challenged themselves in their season opener by playing N.C. State at a neutral site. The game went back and forth for a while, but South Carolina was able to take control in the 3rd quarter and then held on to secure a 35-28 win. The caveat is that N.C. State racked up twice as many total yards as South Carolina. 

Those results create an interesting matchup for this weekend. The Gamecocks didn’t move the ball particularly well, but they’ll now face an opponent that couldn’t stop a below-average FCS program. Meanwhile, the Tigers put up gaudy offensive numbers in their opener but now must face a defense that should have the athletes to keep up with them. So where does that leave us heading into Saturday?

College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: Over 72

Oddsmakers couldn’t pick a winner for this game when they opened this matchup as a PK, and neither can I. But there’s every chance that this game turns into a shootout and goes way over 72 total points. That’s a lot of points, but keep in mind that Missouri scored 72 points on their own last week, albeit against an inferior opponent.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock specialized in putting up big numbers against porous defenses last season, and that continued last week against Missouri State. He’s also quite comfortable in Missouri’s up-tempo offense. The Tigers have plenty of quality receiving targets, allowing Lock to spread the ball around. Sophomore running back Damarea Crockett is off to a fast start after rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman last season. That gives Missouri more than enough playmakers on offense.

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A quality SEC defense may be able to contain Missouri, but I’m not sure South Carolina has that. Head coach Will Muschamp spoke openly before the season about the Gamecocks lacking the size and depth up front to compete in the SEC. The Gamecocks should have a strong group of linebackers. But South Carolina’s defensive front and secondary have issues and last week’s game didn’t do a lot to change that perception.

On the other side of the ball, Missouri’s defensive performance last week speaks for itself. The Gamecocks struggled to move the ball last week, especially on the ground. But N.C. State’s defense deserves a lot of the credit. South Carolina should have a lot easier time against Missouri’s defense. Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers last year, and with more experience under his belt, he should have an even bigger game against Missouri this weekend.

If I had to pick a winner, I’d side with South Carolina, even on the road. But I’m most confident in saying that this game will have plenty of offensive fireworks. With both defenses having serious questions, the smartest bet here is taking the over.