The two biggest indicators South Carolina could have a good chance Saturday might be in the numerical realm.
Vegas has the Aggies as only a two-point favorite, and ESPN’s FPI puts the Gamecocks with a slightly better than 50 percent chance to win. The game itself, it’s kind of a cloudy mess.
The Aggies seem to be trending toward a somewhat stable team. The offense and defense are both at least competent. But both have issues with big plays (defense allows too many, offense doesn’t have a ton), but can move the ball or stop opponents from moving it.
And all the raw defensive numbers are moderately skewed by facing the Alabama offense and giving up 12.1 yards per pass attempt to Clemson’s Kelly Bryant.
Then there’s the Gamecocks, who we just have no idea about.
Sometimes the run game is good. Sometimes it’s just stonewalled. Jake Bentley looked all sorts of ragged against good defenses. Michael Scarnecchia looked less so, but that came against a Missouri team that excels against the run and struggles against the pass (A&M is the same way).
Meanwhile, South Carolina’s defense has suddenly become a sieve against the run, giving up more than a few mid-range gains and occasionally missing key late tackles that turn medium games into long ones. That might be a problem against the Aggies’ powerful, efficient ground game built around Trayveon Williams, Kellen Mond and Jashaun Corbin.
So what does this come down to? Likely talent.
The Aggies just have a little bit more in terms or raw talent, players who can win more one-on-ones. Jimbo Fisher can competently put that talent to work, and USC isn’t at this juncture all that cohesive to make up the difference.
Put that together, the numbers might not be enough.
Texas A&M 28, South Carolina 23