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Independence Bowl Betting Preview: Miami vs. South Carolina

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Miami is the best 6-6 team in college football, and my math model favors the Hurricanes by four points in the Independence Bowl.  The Hurricanes take the field with an explosive offense that is averaging 29.9 points per game on 431 total yards at 6.8 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow just 5.6 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad.

Overall, Miami is 0.9 yards per rush play, 1.5 yards per pass play and 1.2 yards per play better than average offensively in 2014, which is goods enough to exploit a woefully inadequate South Carolina stop unit that is 0.6 yards per play worse than average (6.3 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play).  Overall, the Gamecocks are 0.8 yards per rush attempt, 0.4 yards per pass attempt and 0.6 yards per play worse than average defensively this season.

Miami’s advantage from the line of scrimmage is startling, and the current point spread does not reflect the glaring mismatch:

  • +1.7 yards per rush play advantage offensively
  • +1.9 yards per pass play advantage offensively
  • +1.8 yards per play advantage overall from line of scrimmage

Even more alarming is the fact that the Gamecocks were 2-3 SU and ATS on the road this season where they yielded 35.2 points per game on 429 total yards at 7.1 yards per play and 12.2 yards per point!  Miami should be able to move the ball at will in this game as I see no scenario under which the Hurricanes will be forced to punt the ball.

What many sports bettors do not realize is how good Miami’s defense has been in 2014.  The Hurricanes are allowing 24.3 points per game on 4.7 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.6 yards per play. Overall, Miami is 0.7 yards per rush attempt, 1.1 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play better than average defensively, which is good enough to slow down a solid South Carolina attack that is 0.7 yards per play better than average (6.1 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yards per play).

The matchup favors the Hurricanes when South Carolina has the ball as the Gamecocks’ aerial attack, which is 1.0 yards per pass play better than average, will be forced to throw into an outstanding Miami secondary that is 1.1 yards per pass attempt better than average.  And, Miami’s stout front seven (+0.7 yards per rush play better than average)  should effectively shut down the Gamecocks’ pedestrian ground game that is only 0.3 yards per carry better than average (4.5 yards per rush attempt against teams that would combine to allow 4.2 yards per carry).

Miami should be somewhat motivated to win the Independence Bowl to avoid its first losing season since 2007.   The Hurricanes will also find motivation in the fact that they have not won a bowl game since beating Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl after the 2006 season.   Miami Athletic Director Blake James is confident in the fact that the Hurricanes will be prepared to play in Shreveport.

“I think it looks like a great game,” James said.  “Anytime you can go against an SEC opponent and then you add in Steve Spurrier, one of the great coaches in colleges football, and you have the rivalry right there right away knowing you’re going against an SEC opponent, going against Steve Spurrier.  I’m confident that Al and our guys will be ready to go, go out there and play a great game in Shreveport.  Our team, going against the SEC, it’s something I know our fans and our guys will be excited for.”

This game presents one of the biggest mismatches of the bowl season, but the oddsmakers have not reflected that fact in the opening point spread.  Lay the points with Miami and invest with confidence.