Both Notre Dame and South Carolina are similar on paper. That is why it makes sense that Notre Dame is only a narrow 2.5-point favorite.
ND and South Carolina both finished with 8-4 records and have nearly identical rankings in the AP Top 25 poll. They also had a similar strength of schedule as the Gamecocks played the 31st toughest schedule, and the Fighting Irish played the 32nd toughest slate.
For my Gator Bowl best bets, I sift through both teams’ schedules to figure out how to play this bowl game between two ranked teams.
Notre Dame vs South Carolina Odds for Gator Bowl
As of Monday, Dec. 19, Notre Dame is listed as a 2.5-point favorite over South Carolina at BetRivers Sportsbook.
With a point total of only 51.5 points, oddsmakers are also expecting an average-scoring bowl game.
Notre Dame vs South Carolina: Gator Bowl Prediction
Notre Dame 38, South Carolina 24
Once you look at the game logs for both Notre Dame and South Carolina, Notre Dame is clearly the better team.
The Fighting Irish had a rough start to the season. Even though they only lost 21-10 against National Championship-contender Ohio State to open the season, ND lost to Marshall as a 20.5-point favorite and to Stanford as a 16.5-point favorite. After those embarrassing losses, Notre Dame got hot.
They beat a then nationally-ranked Syracuse team 41-24 on the road, Clemson 35-14 at home, and were competitive against USC on the road.
South Carolina, on the other hand, has benefitted from good luck. They beat a then nationally-ranked Kentucky team that was without their starting quarterback Will Levis. The Gamecocks also beat a Tennessee team that was missing their starting quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Their only noteworthy win this year was on the road against Clemson, when they won 31-30 as a two-touchdown underdog. The Gamecocks should be only slightly better than .500 this season, which is why I believe that Notre Dame wins the Gator Bowl handily.
Notre Dame vs South Carolina Best Bets for Gator Bowl
Notre Dame -2.5 (-112) at BetRivers Sportsbook
WAGER: .5 Units
Notre Dame is favored by less than a field goal which, on the surface, seems fair. Both teams appear to be evenly matched and the Fighting Irish are one of the most popular college football teams.
Once you look at Notre Dame’s body of work and South Carolina’s, the choice is clear. ND should cover the spread.
As the season went on, the Fighting Irish got better, and the Gamecocks barely improved. I expect the spread to move as we get closer to game time, and I would bet ND up to -6.5.
Notre Dame -9.5 (+220) at BetRivers Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
Even though I like Notre Dame’s regular spread, I like their -9.5 (+220) alternate spread even more.
In bowl games, there is more variance than regular season games. During the regular season, as more games are played, the final score is closer to the spread than at the beginning of the season. For bowl games, the final score is further from the spread than even Week 1 regular season games.
With BetRivers and other sportsbooks not properly adjusting for this, the best way to play many of these bowl games is to bet on high-paying alternate spreads and totals.