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Georgia Southern vs Louisiana Odds & Picks: Why to Bet the Underdog

Georgia Southern vs Louisiana Odds & Picks: Why to Bet the Underdog article feature image

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton.

Georgia Southern vs Louisiana Odds

Thursday, Nov. 10
7:30 p.m. ET
Georgia Southern Odds
-105o / -115u
Louisiana Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

While MACtion captures our hearts and fills our betting cards for midweek college football, the Thursday night Sun Belt games should not be overlooked.

Troy vs. South Alabama, Coastal Carolina vs. App State and Louisiana vs. Southern Miss have all been exciting games in the must-see TV timeslot in recent weeks.

That tradition continues this week with a Georgia Southern vs. Louisiana game that promises to be entertaining. It could be decided by which team gets off the mat better in a short week after tough losses; both teams let multi-score leads slip away on their home fields last Saturday.

This matchup is a classic case of opposing styles.

The Ragin' Cajuns are a defense-first team, ranking 30th in SP+ on that side of the ball — the holdover from their recent dominance of the Sun Belt West.

Georgia Southern is undergoing an offensive revitalization in Clay Helton’s first year. The Eagles boast an excellent pass offense but struggle to get stops.

This should be a fascinating Thursday night game, both from a narrative standpoint and with the clash of styles. Should we take the home team and its sturdy defense, or the visitors and their ability to throw the ball all over the yard?

Let’s dive into the matchup.

Georgia Southern Eagles

What an improbable turnaround season it's been for Helton in Statesboro. He has taken a team projected to finish near the bottom of the Sun Belt and has it a win away from bowl eligibility.

In the first season transitioning from decades of triple-option football, Helton installed an Air Raid attack and created one of the best offenses in the Group of Five.

The aerial attack is led by Buffalo transfer quarterback Kyle Vantrease. The "Ginger General" has already set career highs and school records for numerous passing statistics. He has completed 61.6% of his passes for 2,982 yards (4th in FBS) and 20 touchdowns, although he has tossed 13 interceptions.

While Vantrease has been good, the straw that stirs the drink is four quality receivers. With Khaleb Hood and Amare Jones operating from the slot and Derwin Burgess Jr. and Jeremy Singleton on the perimeter, the Eagles have the deepest and most experienced receiving corps in the Sun Belt.

They're athletic and shifty, compiling big yards after the catch numbers — and they've had big days against quality FBS pass defenses like JMU and South Alabama already.

WR Khaleb Hood606852
WR Derwin Burgess Jr.536426
WR Jeremy Singleton485082
WR Amare Jones354836

And while Louisiana is stronger against the pass than the run — it ranks eighth in EPA against the pass and 51st against the rush — it hasn't faced a passing offense in the same universe as this one.

The only above-average passing attack it's faced is South Alabama’s.

Georgia Southern’s defense is a much deeper rebuild and has been the team’s Achille's heel. It prefers to get into high-scoring affairs and let the chips fall where they may. It has won offense-heavy games against Nebraska and James Madison but faltered in close games against other top Sun Belt offenses like Coastal, South Alabama and Georgia State.

Louisiana’s offense has cratered with the post-Billy Napier talent exodus and ranks 94th in offensive SP+. While it will be happy to see Georgia Southern’s forgiving defense come to town, it's ill-equipped to win with only its offense.

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Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

While Georgia Southern has to feel great about its new direction under Helton, Louisiana is wrapping up a disappointing first campaign with Michael Desormeaux as head coach.

He was an in-house hire, hoping to keep the good times of the Napier era extended, but the program has suffered.

A number of players lost eligibility or transferred to new homes in the college ranks. A two-quarterback rotation was inconsistent at the beginning of the season and has now stabilized to just Ben Wooldridge.

The offense has fallen off of a cliff, with a mediocre run game and a poor pass attack.

The defense is the team’s strong suit, but it’s not a lights-out unit. In the last two weeks, it choked away a 17-point lead to Troy and allowed 39 points to USM’s struggling offense.

Wooldridge is the quarterback and has provided some much-needed stability to the passing game, although the Cajuns are only 111th in Offensive Passing Success. Louisiana will have to try to control the ball and play keep-away, but that will be a new task for an offense that ranks 106th overall in Success Rate.

The defense has better statistics against the pass than the rush, so that's an encouraging sign for the Cajuns in this matchup. But as noted, they haven't truly been tested by any strong passing attacks on the season.

Georgia Southern vs Louisiana Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Georgia Southern and Louisiana match up statistically:

Georgia Southern Offense vs. Louisiana Defense
Rush Success7452
Line Yards9481
Pass Success1828
Pass Blocking**4664
Finishing Drives3818
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Louisiana Offense vs. Georgia Southern Defense
Rush Success85120
Line Yards37128
Pass Success11184
Pass Blocking**6456
Finishing Drives10366
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling11458
PFF Coverage548
SP+ Special Teams9064
Seconds per Play22.1 (8)25.4 (43)
Rush Rate39.7% (128)50.2% (89)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Georgia Southern vs Louisiana Betting Pick

While there are similarities with first-year head coaches looking for bowl eligibility, reaching that mark would be a mighty achievement for the Eagles, while falling short would be a big letdown for a Ragin' Cajuns team that has already surrendered its grip on the West Division title.

Motivation will be a huge factor after the two comebacks these teams just allowed, and I prefer the team looking to cap a surprise season than the one on the decline.

On the field, it’s a clash of styles. Georgia Southern has succeeded in taking teams and dragging them into points-powered matchups. Eagles games are like a basketball matchup where one team is trying to impose its tempo on the other. So far, they have been successful in those games and have only lost when they do so against another strong offense.

Louisiana’s offense is not equipped to play in such a game and will have trouble stringing together long drives and finishing them, ranking 103rd in Finishing Drives.

I’ll take the optimistic program and better quarterback fighting to attain their goals. I’ll take the Eagles when given a field goal or more. The line opened at +5.5 and can be found at +3.5 at some shops as of writing.

Pick: Georgia Southern +3 or Better

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