Thursday College Football Betting Odds & Picks: Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama, Temple vs. East Carolina

Thursday College Football Betting Odds & Picks: Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama, Temple vs. East Carolina article feature image

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cephus Johnson

  • Thursday Night college football is back! Get all the betting info and picks you need for both below.
  • Georgia Southern is a 10-point road favorite at South Alabama in what is expected to be a low-scoring game (over/under of 46 points).
  • The betting odds also has Temple as a rather large road favorite (-11.5) against East Carolina.

Thursday’s two-game college football slate leaves a bit to be desired — at least as far as matchup excitement is concerned. From a betting standpoint, however, there’s plenty of reason to be interested in Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) and Temple vs. East Carolina (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Let’s dive into the breakdowns and value spots for both games.

Thursday College Football Betting Odds & Picks

Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama Betting Odds

  • Odds: Georgia Southern -10
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Mobile, Ala.

Odds as of Wednesday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama Line Movement

A 3-point line move to a key number is always worth noting, but especially so when it comes in the direction against the public side. South Alabama, which is drawing just 36% of bettors, has moved from +13 down to +10 since opening. Helping that movement has been the 58% of money hitting the Jaguars despite their minority backing.

The total has provided less of a story, but still has dropped from 48.5 to 46 behind 55% of bets and 59% of money on the under. — Danny Donahue

Collin Wilson: Has the Market Adjusted to These Offenses?

A Thursday night #Funbelt matchup featuring two of the worst offenses in the conference should rival the NFL in terms of Thursday quality.

South Alabama ranks 113th in total offense, 114th in yards per play and 123rd in passing yards per attempt. The Jags couldn’t put up more than six points against Memphis or UAB, and they only have two long touchdown drives all season.

Georgia Southern isn’t much better.

The Eagles rank 129th in total offense and 124th in yards per play. It is not surprising that the triple-option offense has yet to throw a touchdown, but the rushing attack is broken. The Eagles rank 124th in line yards and 86th in power success rate, two metrics crucial to the option.

The market has taken out plenty of value on the under, which has dropped from 49 to 46, but I still think there’s reason to like it.

The two teams have combined for 29 red zone attempts through nine games of play and only 13 have ended in a touchdown. Georgia Southern and South Alabama rank 95th and 129th, respectively, in touchdown percentage. Neither team is explosive, so this game will come down to execution in the red zone.

Our Action Network projections based on pace, yards per play and total plays calls for a total of 37. That does give value to an under of the current number, but with each team ranking outside the top 100 in havoc allowed there should be self-inflicted drive stoppage. — Collin Wilson

The Pick: Under 46

Stuckey: A Case for Taking the Points

I agree with Collin on the under here between two run-heavy teams that cannot throw the ball. Both teams rank in the top 25 in rush attempts per game and in the bottom 10 in passing yards per game

In fact, Georgia Southern is one of only two teams in FBS that averages under 100 yards per game through the air. And it actually averages less than 50!

129. Georgia Southern 49.7
130. Army 48.5

South Alabama is one of only 10 teams that averages fewer than 150 yards per game through the air. Expect plenty of runs, which in turn will keep the clock moving rapidly throughout.

The Georgia Southern offense is an absolute mess and it all starts with the offensive line.

After losing two all-conference performers from a year ago at center and left tackle, GSU still had some bodies to fill in the gaps to field a sufficient offensive line. However, a number of injuries and overall lack of execution has left the Eagles with one of the worst offensive lines in the country.

Per Football Outsiders, they rank 127th in Standard Down Line Yards (a measure of run blocking). It was really concerning to see the lack of execution in the run game last week against a Louisiana defensive front that ranks 128th in that same category. GSU only gained 3.8 yards per rush against a defense that had been routinely getting gashed by opposing backs.

That’s putting them behind the sticks, which isn’t ideal for an option attack. And when they do have to pass, their OL ranks 126th in Passing Downs Sack Rate. As a result, Georgia Southern has only converted 23.9% of its third downs. That’s third worst in the country.

South Alabama has been a little bit better in that department, ranking 79th. And Georgia Southern’s defense ranks 107th in the country in third down conversion percentage.

The Jaguar offensive front has been much stronger in run blocking than the Eagles. It’s one of the reasons why running back Tra Minter is averaging 8.0 yards per carry on the season.

GSU also has been lucky in the fumble department, losing only 5 of 13 on the year. Meanwhile, USA has lost 5 of 6. Don’t expect that to last.

This is just too many points for GSU to lay on the road with what appears to be a broken offense in what I expect to be a low scoring game. In what should be a run-heavy game, Minter is the back I trust the most to move the chains. I like the home dog at anything 10 or above. Stuckey

The Pick: South Alabama +10 or better

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Re’Mahn Davis

Temple vs. East Carolina Betting Odds

  • Odds: Temple -11.5
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Greenville, South Carolina

Odds as of Wednesday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

East Carolina vs. Temple Line Movement

Much like its partner on Thursday’s two-game slate, this matchup has also featured some movement toward an unpopular home dog. East Carolina has attracted 36% of bettors, but has dropped from +13 to +11.5 thanks in large part to a higher percentage of actual money (51%).

The total has been nudged down from 48 to 47.5 behind 51% of bets generated 66% of dollars. — Danny Donahue

Collin Wilson: Will Defense be the Story?

East Carolina’s Holton Ahlers came into the season dubbed ‘Mini-Tebow’. The quarterback was a quiet sensation for a terrible ECU team in 2018, tallying 18 total touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Ahlers hasn’t re-captured the magic in 2019, throwing five picks and posting a sub-36 quarterback rating in four of the five games in 2019. I wouldn’t bank on Ahlers’ numbers climbing against this Temple defense.

The Owls have allowed just four passing plays of at least 20 plays this season, the best mark in the nation.

Offensively, Temple had some issues in an emotional Week 5 tussle with Georgia Tech, scoring just 14 offensive points.

The offensive line has been the problem, as the Owls rank 123rd in line yards and average just 3.84 yards per carry.

The biggest discrepancy on the stat sheet between these two teams is red zone efficiency. Temple ranks second in opponent red zone scoring percentage while ECU ranks 119th.

It is still early, but Temple’s stellar defense from last season has shown up so far in 2019 under a new coaching staff. The same can’t be said for ECU, which still has an inefficient defense and a struggling offense, even with ‘Mini-Tebow.’

Our Action Network projections make this game Temple -12, giving value to the Owls at the key number of 10 and to the Pirates at +14 if the line moved enough in either direction.

The best way to play a side may be waiting to bet it live, targeting ECU at +14 and Temple at -10.

The total may provide pregame value, as our projections make this a 41-point game. Temple has been stellar defensively at finishing drives, while ECU is the only team in the country to start the season with five consecutive unders.

Pick: Under 48 or higher

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