#21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #18 South Carolina Gamecocks (12/30 @ 3:30 PM EST)
Spread: Notre Dame -2.5
Money Line: Notre Dame -135 / South Carolina +116
Overview and Betting Info
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4) on Friday night in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. After a brutal start, the Irish have won five of their last six games. The Gamecocks have won three of their previous four, with impressive wins over Tennessee and Clemson.
The Irish are 6-6 against the spread and have covered five of their previous ten games. They are 7-5 in favor of the over for the point total and have gone over in their last six games.
The Gamecocks are 7-5 versus the spread and have covered six of their last ten games. For the total, they are 7-5 in favor of the over.
#21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame offense averaged 382.7 yards and 30.7 points per game this season. After the news that starter Drew Pyne will be heading to ASU, the Irish will turn to sophomore Tyler Buchner. The quarterback played in two games this season, throwing for 378 yards and two interceptions. He will be without the teams leading receiver in tight end Michal Mayer (809 yards, 9 TD), who is leaving for the NFL draft. That means Buchner will need to work with a combination of Lorenzo Styles (340 yards, 1 TD), Jayden Thomas (295 yards, 3 TD), and Braden Lenzy (220 yards, 2 TD).
The Irish backfield is led by Audric Estime who has 825 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. He’s been splitting carries with Logan Diggs, who has 732 yards and three touchdowns. Both will likely be in for a lot of touches with Pyne and Mayer out. Keep an eye out for Chris Tyree as well, as he has made some plays in limited carriers over the last two weeks (8 carriers for 74 yards and 1 TD).
The Notre Dame defense is allowing 327.1 yards and 21.8 points per game. They have been playing well toward the end of the year, allowing just 18.2 points per game over their last four. They have been led by the play of Isaiah Foskey, who is 6th in FBS with 11 sacks. He’s been dominant lately, with 3.5 sacks over his last three games. In the secondary, the Irishs’ success has been led by Benjamin Morrison, who is 10th in FBS with five interceptions on the season. Notre Dame has only nine interceptions, making Morrison one of their most important players. Keep an eye on linebacker JD Bertrand as well, as he leads the team with 74 tackles to go with two sacks.
#18 South Carolina Gamecocks
The South Carolina offense averaged 381.1 yards and 31.7 points per game this season. They are led by quarterback Spencer Rattler who has thrown for 2,780 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He’s been incredible in their last two games against Clemson and Tennessee, combing for 798 yards and nine touchdowns. His success can be partly attributed to top receiver Antwane Wells Jr (898 yards, 6 TD), who has 20 receptions for 308 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. The receiver joins Jalen Brooks (504 yards, 1 TD) and Josh Vann (296 yards, 3 TD) to round out a solid receiving corps. They will be without tight ends Jaheim Bell (transfer) and Austin Stogner (injured), so expect Brooks and/or Vann to see an uptick in catches.
Marshawn Lloyd leads the Gamecocks backfield with 573 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. While he’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry, he missed almost all of November with an injury. He returned for the ACC championship game but was limited to 17 yards on 11 carries. The Gamecocks will be without Jaheim Bell, the tight end who was active in the run game (73 carries for 261 yards, 3 TD). Bell had led the team in rushing over the Gamecocks’ last four games, so look for Juju McDowell (191 yards, 2 TD) and Christian Beal-Smith (148 yards, 5 TD) to see more carries on Friday.
The South Carolina defense allowed 391.9 yards and 27.5 points per game to opposing teams this season. They will be without top defensive back Cam Smith on Friday, as he will be out to prepare for the NFL draft. That means the Gamecocks will rely on Marcellas Dial (11 PD, 3 INT) and Darius Rush (7 PD, 2 INT). The defense will have their top pass rushers in Tonka Hemingway (4 sacks), Jordan Burch (3.5 sacks), and Zacch Pickens (2.5 sacks). While the Gamecocks don’t get much pressure on quarterbacks, it will be imperative for their ground to make their presence known against and Irish team without their quarterback and top pass-catcher.
Free Pick: South Carolina +2.5
One of these teams will be without their starting quarterback, while the other has a quarterback playing as well as anyone in the country. While losing Cam Smith hurts the secondary, the Gamecocks have some depth there and should be able to make up for the loss as they face a Notre Dame pass attack without its top quarterback and receiver. South Carolina also has beaten top 10 teams in back-to-back games, meaning they will be ready to play a school of Notre Dame’s caliber. We see Spencer Rattler continuing his hot streak, putting up some big point totals, and freeing up room for Lloyd to make plays on the ground. The Irish will take time for their new-look offense to find its groove, giving the Gamecocks times to get a lead and never turn back.
We’re taking the points to roll with the Gamecocks on Friday.