Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#187 Georgia State vs.
#188 South Carolina
Saturday, September 3, 2022 at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The South Carolina Gamecocks will look to avoid a major upset when they take on the Georgia State Panthers on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium in the 2022 season opener. Georgia State is coming off its best FBS season to date with an 8-5 record and triumph in the Camellia Bowl. South Carolina went 7-6 under first-year head coach Shane Beamer while picking up a nice win in the Duke's Mayo Bowl.

This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Georgia State looks to build on successful season

It's taken some time for Georgia State to get going at the FBS level, but the Panthers put together a solid 2021 campaign under fifth-year head coach Sean Elliott, winning eight games for the first time in program history. That included a nice win over a ranked Coastal Carolina team, and the Panthers closed out the year by destroying Ball State in the Camellia Bowl.

Georgia State's offense is a form of the option, and while not as strict as those seen at the service academies, still calls on the Panthers to run the ball at one of the highest rates in the nation. Darren Grainger is set to start under center again after going 136 of 228 for 1,715 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions while recording 133 carries for 660 yards and three scores last year.

Tucker Gregg returns as the team's leading rusher, having carried the ball 192 times for 953 yards and nine scores in 2021. Jamari Thrash is the team's top receiver after racking up 32 catches for 452 yards and three scores last year. Thomas Gore is a key piece in the middle of the defense as he piled up nine tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2021.

The offense finished last season right around the national average with 28.2 points and 389.6 yards per game. Georgia State's defense graded out around the same level, allowing 27.1 points and 402.9 yards per contest.

No injury information is available out of the Georgia State camp.

South Carolina enters year two under Beamer

There's still a lot of work left to do, but South Carolina has to be happy with a postseason victory in the first season under head coach Shane Beamer in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. While the Gamecocks couldn't compete with some of the SEC powers, they picked up a few nice wins including over Florida and Auburn while also handling North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl.

There's a good amount of returning production for the Gamecocks on both sides of the ball in addition to a handful of exciting newcomers at key positions. All eyes will be on Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler, who will be the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks this season after he went 140/187 for 1,483 yards, 11 touchdowns and five picks with the Sooners in 2022.

Marshawn Lloyd will take over the starting backfield job after carrying the ball 64 times for 228 yards and a score last season, when he was not close to full health throughout. Josh Vann returns as the top receiver, having piled up 43 receptions for 679 yards and five scores in 2021.

This offense really struggled, ranking in the sub-100 range with 22.6 points and 330 yards per game. The defense was much more of a strength, allowing 24 points and 374.3 yards per contest, solidly above average marks.

Receiver Chris Rucker (foot) is unlikely to play while tight end Chad Terrell (knee) will miss the entire season. Running back Christian Beal-Smith, a transfer from Wake Forest who will play a big role, is dealing with a foot injury but is expected to play.

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Georgia State has long been considered a program with a lot of potential due to being in the recruiting hotbed of Atlanta, and finally started to translate that to wins with an 8-5 campaign in a stronger than usual Sun Belt in 2021. Winning this game is too much to ask for, but the Panthers won't be an easy offense to prepare for in the opener and can keep things close as the Gamecocks struggled to score last year.

This hybrid option attack was effective on the ground in 2021, racking up 5.1 yards per rush attempt with every major piece set to return. The Panthers nearly took down Auburn on the road early in the season and beat Tennessee back in 2019 in their previous contest against an SEC opponent.

South Carolina was 93rd nationally at 5.1 yards per play last season, and things could take a bit to gel with a new quarterback plus some other changes. With a low-scoring game featuring few possessions, Georgia State can keep things close enough against an SEC opponent again.

Prediction: Georgia State +12.5

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Georgia State is only a middling team in terms of tempo as expected with the run-heavy style, while South Carolina was one of the slowest-paced teams in college football at 64.9 plays per game to open the Beamer era. With that type of style and seven starters returning on defense, we can expect the Gamecocks to rank within the top 50 in scoring on that side of the ball again, and they will give the Georgia State offensive line some trouble.

While Rattler is a big-name transfer, his decision-making in a much more quarterback-friendly system in Oklahoma left plenty to be desired, and the Gamecocks also lost their top two running backs. Both defenses are capable, and the slow pace will make the difference here.

Prediction: Under 56.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily. 
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