This is a game that was marked down as a sure win in the preseason, and as such this was selected as the homecoming game. Now, after a 2-4 start and a legendary coach calling it quits mid-season, the Gamecocks are only a 2.5 point favorite at home. Home field usually gets you 3 points, so the consensus is that a team that lost to Western Kentucky and hasn't won an SEC game since 2013 would beat the Gamecocks by half a point on a neutral field. Less than 2 years ago we were the #4 team in the nation, so props for Spurrier for realizing that a change needed to be made and it was time to hang it up.
Last year Vandy returned two kick-offs for TDs against us. This year our special teams play is lone bright spot and I don't think we've allowed a return of more than 30 yards. Given our woeful offense the kick-off coverage hasn't been getting the most work, but still......I don't think Vandy scores on special teams this year.
Vandy's strength is their defense. Derek Mason is a highly regarded defensive coach, and he has personally taken the reins on that side of the ball. On offense they have a big 6'4", 220lbs dual-threat QB in McCrary that isn't great yet but is getting better. Ralph Webb is a good RB. On paper South Carolina is much more talented across the board, but Vanderbilt seems to be getting the most out of their talent while SC is most certainly not.
The biggest story of the game is obviously how the team will respond to Spurrier's departure and Shawn Elliott being named interim head coach. G.A. Mangus is now the sole play caller on offense and we finally get Brandon Wilds back from injury. I think we will finally realize that we need to stick with the run, as that is what best suits our current personnel, and we'll run the ball at least 60% of the time. After the first half of this season I should stop picking the Gamecocks to win, but I just can't force myself to pick Vanderbilt. Prediction: USC 17 - Vandy 14