James Madison vs. Georgia Southern Odds, Picks: Saturday College Football Betting Guide
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Que Reid (James Madison)
- James Madison and Georgia Southern face off in a Week 7 Sun Belt clash.
- The Dukes, in their first year in FBS, have been really strong, currently undefeated at 5-0.
- Keg breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
James Madison vs. Georgia Southern Odds
Five games into their first season as an FBS team, the Dukes have yet to lose a game, are tied for first in the Sun Belt East with Coastal Carolina and are now ranked in the AP Poll for the first time, earning the 25th spot this week.
James Madison is just the third team in history to begin its first year of its FCS to FBS transition with a 5-0 record — the others being FAU in 2004 and most recently, UTSA in 2012.
No team has ever started 6-0, so will the Dukes be the first?
To do so, they will face what is likely their most formidable challenge of the season so far, as they hit the road to square off against Georgia Southern in Statesboro.
And while the Eagles may be just 3-3 on the season, don't let their record fool you — Georgia Southern is one of the best teams in the Sun Belt.
Most people didn't see the Dukes' success in their first year in the Sun Belt coming — remember, they were picked to finish second-to-last in the Sun Belt East.
But if you have kept up with FCS football, you knew there was a decent chance the Dukes could have a strong start.
Before its FBS transition, JMU had made the FCS Playoffs every year since 2014, and head coach Curt Cignetti entered this season with a record of 33-5 since taking over in 2019.
But I don't think anyone could've predicted after five games that the Dukes would be 5-0 and leading the conference in scoring.
In their last game, quarterback Todd Centeio had a season-high 394 passing yards — as he completed 75.7% of his passes — earning his second Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week award.
His No. 1 option, Kris Thornton, ranks second among conference receivers, racking up 516 yards on five touchdowns this season. He averages 103.2 receiving yards a game.
The Dukes' defense refuses to be outshined by the offense, ranking first in the conference when it comes to defensive scoring.
James Madison's defense has held opponents to just 15 points per contest. The unit also ranks first in both rushing and passing defense.
So, what is the defense's weakness?
Well, if there is one, it's red-zone defense. The Dukes rank 69th in Finishing Drives and are last among Sun Belt teams in red-zone scoring percentage, allowing teams to score on 90% of trips.
And while it isn't necessarily a weakness, I think the Dukes' defense will face their toughest test of the season so far, as they match up against the only offense in the Sun Belt that has posted more yards than their own.
Eagles quarterback Kyle Vantrease leads the Sun Belt with 1,933 passing yards on the season.
He also holds the top spot in yards per game, averaging 322.2 per contest.
But there's one major issue with the star quarterback: Accuracy.
Vantrease has 11 interceptions on the season and he ranks 10th among Sun Belt quarterbacks in terms of completion percentage. No other quarterback in the nation has more than eight interceptions on the season.
If he could limit the turnovers, Vantrease could be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Even with the picks, he ranks sixth nationally in passing yards.
Last week, he threw four interceptions, one of the most significant contributing factors in the Eagles' loss to the Panthers.
The good news for Vantrease is James Madison is 12th out of 14 teams in the conference when it comes to interceptions, with just four on the season. Hopefully, he can prevent propelling the Dukes up the rankings.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles have struggled, giving up 30.3 points per game while also ranking last in the conference by allowing 454.2 yards per contest.
They are slightly better at defending the pass, but still come in at 75th in Passing Success Rate Allowed.
They also are even worse than the Dukes when it comes to Defensive Finishing Drives (85th).
James Madison vs. Georgia Southern Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how James Madison and Georgia Southern match up statistically:
James Madison Offense vs. Georgia Southern Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Georgia Southern Offense vs. James Madison Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||80||69|
|Seconds per Play||27.5 (92)||21.6 (7)|
|Rush Rate||.0% ()||40.3% (128)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
James Madison vs. Georgia Southern Betting Pick
The Georgia Southern defense is bad — plain and simple. There's no question about it.
And the offense's turnover problems aren't doing the unit any favors.
I expect the Dukes' offense to be able to take advantage and score nearly at will against the Eagles.
However, I'm not sold on the Dukes' defense, and I believe they have benefited considerably from some of the teams they've faced.
In their matchup against App State, they allowed the Mountaineers to rack up 28 points and 235 yards while allowing them to go 3-for-3 in the red zone. Even with the turnover struggles for the Eagles, they are a better and more high-volume offense than App State.
This is why I'm on this game to go over the total of 66.5. Even if Georgia Southern's interception problems continue, there's a chance that it can benefit the total in this game.
I also expect the Eagles to push the pace — they rank seventh nationally in seconds per play. Bet this Sun Belt matchup to go over the total at any number 68.5 or better.