Each week, all season long, we’ll provide you with a quick thumbnail sketch for each SEC football game. Obviously, with the season kicking off tonight, the first said thumbnail will feature South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Here’s our quickie take:
South Carolina at Vanderbilt
7:00pm ET on ESPN
Opening Line: USC -8
Current Line: USC -6.5
Storylines: Come on, it’s the SEC opener for both teams. But if you’re looking for something more, there are two questions we’ll start to see answered tonight. Fresh off its first-ever 11-win season, is South Carolina ready to another step forward and legitimately compete for a BCS championship? And James Franklin’s done great work at Vandy in a short time, but will the Dores take a step backward since they won’t be sneaking up on anyone in 2012?
Keys for South Carolina: Bring the heat to Vandy quarterback Jordan Rodgers and protect a thin secondary. Lean on — but make sure not to overuse — tailback Marcus Lattimore who’s returning from major knee surgery.
Keys for Vanderbilt: Simple. Force turnovers and convert on third downs. The Commodores need to keep the ball in their possession when they have it… and steal possessions — and create short fields for their offense — when the Gamecocks have it.
Pick: South Carolina 27, Vanderbilt 17