South Alabama vs. Central Michigan Odds & Picks: Jaguars Ready to Cover Week 2 Spread?
Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Lew Nichols III (Central Michigan)
- South Alabama takes on Central Michigan in a Week 2 afternoon college football matchup.
- The Jags are in year two of Kane Wommack's rebuild, while the Chipps have a lot of bodies to replace on both sides of the football.
- Dan Keegan previews this duel and offers up his best bet.
South Alabama vs. Central Michigan Odds
These two teams were on opposite paths into 2022, and took opposite paths in Week 1, also.
South Alabama is now in the second year of Kane Wommack’s rebuild, and the Jaguars brought back a lot of pieces from last season’s 5-7 squad. They feel confident in their defense, but need to replace some stars on offense. They beat up on a pretty good FCS team (Nicholls) in their opener.
Central Michigan enters 2022 on the heels of a nine-win season. The Chipps do return two offensive stars, but have large swaths of production to replace on both sides of the ball. They were blown out by Oklahoma State in Week 1, until a fourth quarter garbage time rally made the final score respectable.
Let’s dive into an underrated Group of Five matchup that might be closer than you think.
The Jaguars went 5-7 last year, and odds are the only players you’ve heard of were Jake Bentley and Jalen Tolbert, who are both gone this season.
Carter Bradley won the quarterback competition to replace Bentley, and Jalen Wayne is a budding star and NFL wideout in his own right. In their Week 1 matchup, they connected three times for 98 yards and two scores.
Despite needing to replace their two stars, the other quality pieces on offense return, as evidenced by the Jaguars’ 2.5 offensive TARP. They return four out of five starters on the offensive line.
Their defensive TARP is also positive at 1.5, and the secondary is the strength of the team. Seven starters return, including four up front. Cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. and safety Keith Gallmon are both all-conference players and NFL prospects, and they’ll be joined by a trio of Power Five transfers.
The Jaguars’ defense was excellent at keeping opponents out of the end zone, as they ranked 10th in Finishing Drives last season. Another way to examine this success is that quality drives against USA only finished at an average of 3.51 points per drive, which was sixth in the country.
Wommack, a Tom Allen disciple, has built an underrated defense in his second year at the helm. This is a team that was building toward this year, despite the loss of the two stars.
The Jaguars took care of business in their opener, dispatching FCS Nicholls 48-7. Wayne, Webb, Bradley and the defense all looked sharp.
An interesting factor is Bradley’s familiarity with Central Michigan. He was a Toledo Rocket for four years, and actually started two games against the Chipps. He will be familiar with the CMU concepts and has certainly shared his knowledge in game planning.
The Chippewas have the opposite situation as the Jaguars. This year, their two stars return — the dynamic backfield of RB Lew Nichols III and QB Daniel Richardson — but they must replace basically everyone else.
They lost their two leading receivers, two bookend tackles and eight defensive starters for a net TARP of only 0.5
Like USA’s blowout of an FCS team, it’s hard to glean much knowledge from the Chippewas’ loss to a strong Power Five outfit.
Richardson was incredibly productive, but did most of his damage — three touchdown drives — after the game was out of hand. Nichols III was shut down to a tune of 2.8 yards per carry by one of 2021’s strongest defenses.
Upperclassmen Dallas Dixon and tight end Joel Wilson were expected to be two of Richardson’s primary returning targets, but both were outpaced by Jalen McGaughy and Carlos Carriere on Saturday. The two had previously combined for only 46 career catches.
The more weapons, the merrier against USA’s tough secondary.
CMU’s offensive weakness plays perfectly into USA’s hands. While the Jaguars keep opponents’ quality drives out of the end zone, the Chippewas, likewise, struggled to make the most of their best efforts, finishing 88th in Finishing Drives.
This was a sore spot again on Saturday, with two punts and a turnover on downs past midfield, as well as a missed long field goal.
Defense will be an area of concern for the Chippewas. They were eviscerated last week by Oklahoma State, and return only three starters from a unit that finished 2021 ranked 93rd in SP+.
South Alabama vs. Central Michigan Betting Pick
Don’t let the situation with the two star players fool you — South Alabama is a program that has been building for this season, while the Chippewas are one that is reloading.
South Alabama’s strong secondary can slow down Central Michigan’s passing attack, and it has more experience in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
The Jaguars’ ability to keep teams out of the end zone — while the Chips struggle to finish drives — is a clear advantage for South Alabama in what should be a close game.
The line is currently around 4.5 or 5, and I would take the points as long as I’m getting more than a field goal.