Two top ten SEC powers will clash Saturday night when the Arkansas Razorbacks host the South Carolina Gamecocks in a primetime showdown. What are the sportsbook's opening odds offering us, and does it hold any value?

Opening Numbers

South Carolina GamecocksThe college football odds makers dealt a sharp opening number on this game with the home team laying 5 ½ points and it hasn’t strayed far, if at all. As of this writing the number is holding steady but a few college football betting outlets such as the Greek, Bodog and Legends are now offering the chalk eaters a slight break at Arkansas -5.

Ideally the key numbers for this game would be getting the favorite at -4 or the dog at +6 but I don’t think there will be a groundswell in either direction to push this number up or down. Perhaps the early indications are to wait a bit if you like the Razorbacks as the other sportsbooks may just follow suit and drop to -5 but conversely you may want to grab the +5 ½ right now if you’re a Gamecock backer. 

SEC is stacked!

Four SEC teams are ranked in the top 10 in the nation this week and all four will be squaring off on Saturday night against each other. The college football schedule makers could not have planned it any better with #9 South Carolina and #7 Arkansas serving as a warm-up act to the main event which is #1 LSU traveling to #2 Alabama.

The Stats

The Razorbacks have the edge in every offensive statistical category that seems to matter except in rushing yards. Yes, Arkansas has thrived under Ryan Mallett’s successor, Tyler Wilson. The 22 year old junior has led the Hogs to a 7-1 record by throwing for 2327 yards, 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. The Razorbacks are ranked 9th in passing yards, a dismal 83rd in rushing yards, 25th in total yards and 20th in the country in points scored. 

Meanwhile, South Carolina is dealing with the devastating knee injury to star running back Marcus Lattimore. But lo and behold, Brandon Wilds got tapped to take over as the number one back and all he did was rush for 137 yards on 28 carries in his first start over Tennessee last week en route to being named the SEC freshman of the week. 

Tyler WilsonThough the Gamecocks’ offense has not struck fear into the hearts of the opposition, their defense has done a noteworthy job of containing their opponents. The SEC East leaders are 5-1 in the conference and 7-1 overall and many attribute their standing almost entirely on their opportunistic defense. The Gamecocks have 16 interceptions on the year, tying them for 2nd place in the nation. They also have managed to shutdown some prolific offenses in the process but will be sorely tested Saturday night.

The keys to the game

Though Arkansas can light up the scoreboard they have not been particularly adept at getting the motor running early. They remind me of a skilled boxer, feeling their opponent out and looking for weaknesses before exploiting those chinks in the armor and exploding once they’ve figured it all out. But if they start too late, the Gamecocks may make them pay. They have the ball hawks to do it and can make life miserable if Arkansas gets trapped in bad field position and is forced to punt early and often. 

It boils down to the Hogs offense versus the South Carolina defense. Right now the odds makers say the Razorbacks will win that battle but at only 5 ½ points, it’s anyone’s guess.

Share your thoughts in the South Carolina vs. Arkansas thread in SBR's forum and share your college football picks

Be sure to check out