NCAAF Odds, Picks for Central Michigan vs South Alabama: Don’t Expect Much Offense

NCAAF Odds, Picks for Central Michigan vs South Alabama: Don’t Expect Much Offense article feature image

Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack (left) and quarterback Carter Bradley (right).

Central Michigan vs South Alabama Odds

Saturday, Sept. 23
5 p.m. ET
Central Michigan Odds
-110o / -110u
South Alabama Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Following a historic win over Oklahoma State a week ago, South Alabama welcomes Central Michigan for homecoming on Saturday afternoon.

The Jaguars dominated the Cowboys in Week 3 to secure their first win over a team from the Big 12 Conference.

Meanwhile, the Chippewas own a 1-2 record after losses to No. 9 Notre Dame and Michigan State to go with a victory over FCS New Hampshire.

This is a tricky spot for the Jags with James Madison on deck, and I believe this could present betting value on a lower-scoring game.

Check out our NCAAF Betting Hub for more college football previews, predictions, news and analysis.

Central Michigan Chippewas

In his fifth season with the Central Michigan program, head coach Jim McElwain is looking to get his team back to a bowl game for the first time since the 2020 campaign.

The nonconference slate has not been easy. Now, he'll cap it off with this trip to Sun Belt Conference title contender South Alabama.

It will be a huge help if McElwain’s starting quarterback is back this week. Bert Emanuel Jr. was a late scratch against the Fighting Irish due to an illness, and he was a huge loss. His rushing ability might be bigger than his passing yards to the Chippewas.

In his two starts, he has racked up 142 yards on the ground and a pair of scores. Emanuel was the key reason CMU knocked off New Hampshire, putting up four touchdowns and 100 yards on the ground.

He should be back for this one, but you'll want to make sure if you're planning to back Central Michigan.

South Alabama Jaguars

After a 10-win season in 2022, expectations were very high for head coach Kane Wommack’s program in Year 3 in Mobile, Alabama — especially with the returning production. The Jaguars returned 18 starters from last year’s team, including quarterback Carter Bradley and 1,000-yard rusher La’Damian Webb.

The returners on offense also included four of their five starting offensive linemen and their top two receivers.

However, the Jaguars didn’t get off to a great start with a big loss at Tulane.

Wommack has done a great job of rallying the troops, highlighted by the 26-point victory in Stillwater a week ago.

I feel we'll see a Jags team that looks a lot more like last week’s effort compared to Week 1 for the rest of the season, which gives them an excellent opportunity to contend for a conference title.

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Central Michigan vs South Alabama

Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Central Michigan and South Alabama match up statistically:

Central Michigan Offense vs. South Alabama Defense
Rush Success9737
Line Yards6784
Pass Success127124
Finishing Drives8747
Quality Drives11282
South Alabama Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense
Rush Success10695
Line Yards3392
Pass Success55129
Finishing Drives32113
Quality Drives49125
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling4498
PFF Coverage131115
Special Teams SP+112101
Middle 810137
Seconds per Play29.9 (111)29.6 (105)
Rush Rate66.2% (9)61.0% (22)

Central Michigan vs South Alabama

Betting Pick & Prediction

When I first saw the lines come out for this game on Sunday, I really wanted to back South Alabama to pick up another convincing win. The problem is the situational spot keeps me from doing so.

The Jaguars are fresh off their second-ever win over a Power 5 program. They then have their conference opener at James Madison next week, which makes this a classic sandwich spot.

So, my attention then went to the total, where I see betting value on the total falling under 49.5.

I wouldn't go any lower than the key number of 48, which was seventh among key over/under numbers in Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson’s research from the summer.

One key reason for this bet is the fact that this is a pair of teams that play at very slow tempos. On the season, South Alabama ranks 105th in seconds per play. Under Wommack, the Jaguars have finished the last two years at an average rank of 94th.

Meanwhile, Central Michigan has been even slower this year, coming in at 111th out of 133 teams in tempo.

It also helps that the Chippewas are in the bottom 20 of non-Power 5 teams in Offensive Success Rate. If Emanuel isn't available or not at 100%, this could be an ugly offensive showing once again.

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