Georgia State vs Southern Miss Odds, Picks: Bet Eagles as Short Favorite
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Frank Gore Jr. (Southern Miss)
Georgia State vs Southern Miss Odds
The Sun Belt has developed a new reputation by investing heavily in smaller college football programs with rabid and passionate fanbases. One of the league's moves was poaching a sleeping giant Group of Five team in Southern Miss from the Conference USA.
The Golden Eagles are restoring their proud program under second-year head coach Will Hall, and you should expect The Rock to be, well, rockin’ on Saturday as Georgia State comes to town.
The Panthers are slight underdogs in this game, and they will be looking to turn around a tough season with a big road win.
Does their running attack have enough to steal this game on the road? Can their struggling defense get right against the one-sided Southern Miss offense?
Or should you lay the points and back the home team?
Let’s take a look at the matchup.
Last year’s Panthers squad finished strong — they won seven of their final eight games, including a bowl win — to give Shawn Elliott his third-straight bowl appearance with the program.
The surge was due to a defense that stiffened up and rose to 65th in SP+ — a strong number for a Group of Five school — and an offense that improved once Darren Grainger took over as quarterback midseason.
With many pieces returning on defense — as well as Grainger and other important weapons on offense — the Panthers had high hopes.
Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned — the Panthers are 3-5 on the season and the defense has regressed to 95th in SP+.
That unit has struggled this season, especially against the rush. It's solid against big explosive pass plays — rating 15th in pass/EPA and 33rd in preventing explosive passes.
Southern Miss doesn't pass very frequently, preferring to do so only when necessary to create big strikes, almost like a service academy.
The Eagles prefer to keep it on the ground, but Georgia State’s defense has struggled against the rush, ranking 84th in EPA/Rush and 108th in Defensive Success Rate Allowed.
The Panthers' offense is a ground-based attack around the three-headed monster of Grainger and thunder and lightning running backs Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams.
Gregg is the program’s all-time leading rusher and has picked up 605 yards on the ground this season, with Grainger at 513 and Williams chipping in 447.
Georgia State ranks 127th in Rush Rate Over Expected at 15.1% — it's one of the most extreme run-heavy teams in the country. This plays into the hands of the stout Southern Miss defense.
Georgia State has faced a slate of pliable defenses like UNC, Army, Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina. The two toughest units the Panthers have faced are probably South Carolina (only 14 points allowed to GSU) and Appalachian State (17).
Southern Miss’ defense is of a similar quality or maybe even better than those two, and should have a good day against the one-sided Panthers attack.
Hall is leading a resurgence of this program in his second year, and the vibes are great right now in Hattiesburg, especially after last week’s big Thursday night win over Louisiana.
The defense is fantastic, checking in at 33rd overall in SP+. Meanwhile, the offense — Hall’s natural side of the ball — has been challenging at 107th in SP+.
That has been an issue since Hall arrived in Hattiesburg, with quarterback injuries sinking a unit with two star position players in running back Frank Gore Jr. and wide receiver Jason Brownlee.
The quarterback job currently belongs to true freshman Zack Wilke, thanks to an injury to starter Ty Keyes. Wilke has completed 58% of his passes for 1,116 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.
As expected of an offense led by a true freshman, the Eagles are susceptible to Havoc, near the bottom of the country in preventing negative plays or turnovers.
Fortunately for them, the Georgia State defense doesn’t really create much — it's also near the bottom of the country in creating Havoc.
The Southern Miss defense is playing with an edge right now. It ranks 23rd in defensive EPA. The Eagles are fast, athletic and swarm to the ball.
The Eagles are vicious against the rush — 13th in Rushing Success Allowed, which is all Georgia State will want to do — and have good coverage behind the front seven.
The defense has been built with veterans in the secondary and down-transfers in the front seven. The formula is working to great success, as this is one of the best stop units in the Group of Five, and the Eagles match up well with Georgia State.
In addition to its ability to stop the run, Southern Miss is also excellent at standing up drives in scoring opportunities, ranking 14th in Parker Fleming’s “Points per ECKEL” stat.
This measures what teams do with their “ECKEL's," a scoring opportunity defined as a first down inside their opponents 40-yard line.
Southern Miss keeps these possessions out of the end zone. Georgia State has really struggled to turn its quality opportunities into points, ranking 114th in points per ECKEL.
Georgia State vs Southern Miss Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Georgia State and Southern Miss match up statistically:
Georgia State Offense vs. Southern Miss Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Southern Miss Offense vs. Georgia State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||29||23|
|Seconds per Play||22.9 (11)||27.4 (90)|
|Rush Rate||66.6% (5)||59.6% (26)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Georgia State vs Southern Miss Betting Pick
Georgia State can run the ball well when it gets to face a soft defense — like it did against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion and others. Southern Miss is a much stiffer test than most defenses the Panthers have faced.
Southern Miss has a rowdy home-field advantage, matchup advantages and two days of extra rest (it played on Thursday in Week 9).
Both teams will keep the ball on the ground in this game, but Southern Miss is actually good at stopping the rushing attack.
I’ll take the Golden Eagles and lay the 2 points, and I would play it up to 3.