Georgia State vs James Madison Odds & Picks: Bet the Panthers?
Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia State’s Ahmon Green (left) and Darren Grainger (right).
Georgia State vs James Madison Odds
|Georgia State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|James Madison Odds|
-110o / -110u
Georgia State travels to James Madison in a matchup of two programs whose seasons have gone in opposite directions.
The Panthers were a popular pick to come out atop the Sun Belt Conference. However, they’ve been rudely woken up from that dream after hoisting a 3-3 conference record and 4-6 overall.
Last season, the program finished strong, winning seven of its final eight games. Can the Panthers repeat history by winning its final two games to become bowl eligible?
James Madison, more importantly, covered the spread in its first five games of the season. But the Dukes hit a slight rough patch, losing three games in a row.
They defeated Old Dominion by 34 points last week, which would’ve secured bowl eligibility if they were allowed to play in the postseason after moving up from the FCS ranks.
Can Georgia State catch fire at the end of the season for the second year in a row?
Last season, Georgia State opened its season by losing four of its first five games. The Panthers then ripped off seven wins in their last eight contests, including a bowl victory over Ball State.
Georgia State was hoping for history to repeat itself this season after losing its first four matchups of the year.
The program followed that up with four victories in a five-game stint heading into its matchup against Louisiana Monroe last week. However, the Panthers laid an egg and lost by 3 points as two-touchdown favorites.
Now, the Panthers will need to beat two strong programs in James Madison and Marshall just to earn a ticket to bowl season.
The Panthers’ biggest disappointment has been their defense. In the six losses this season, the defense has allowed an average of 38 points per game. In their four victories, that number has dropped to just 19 points per game.
The group’s offense has been largely mediocre this season. Quarterback Darren Grainger has thrown 16 touchdowns to seven interceptions while averaging 7.7 yards per pass attempt.
Grainger has really carried the offense, leading the team in rushing yards. Behind him are three serviceable backs in Tucker Gregg, Marcus Carroll and Jamyest Williams who all are averaging over 55 rushing yards per contest.
The Panthers will need Grainger to be effective with his arm in this matchup given James Madison’s stout front seven.
James Madison took the Sun Belt by storm early in conference play. But a few slip-ups against Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and Marshall all but ended its hopes of finishing atop the conference in its inaugural season.
The Dukes have found success thanks to their elite defense that has been one of the top units in the country. The group ranks among the top 30 in the country, allowing just 4.7 yards per play and only 22 points per game against FBS foes.
In particular, the front seven has been dominant in holding opponents to 2.7 yards per carry on the season. That ranks top-three in the country, as it’s holding opponents to just 88 yards on the ground.
The weakness of James Madison’s defense has been its secondary. In its losses to Arkansas State and Georgia Southern, the defense allowed a total of 32 yards rushing. But those two teams passed for a combined 825 yards. Look for Georgia State to attack this secondary early and often.
Offensively, James Madison also ranks in the top 30 in both scoring offense and yards per game. Though it passes the ball on just 42% of its plays, that’s where the group has found most of its success.
Quarterback Todd Centeio has thrown 17 touchdowns to only five interceptions while averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt. He also will be airing it out against a Georgia State defense that has been exposed through the air.
Georgia State vs. James Madison Matchup Analysis
Georgia State vs James Madison Betting Pick
There’s been overwhelming one-way action backing James Madison in this matchup. Seventy percent of the bets and 93% of the money has come in on the Dukes at the time of writing.
As someone who likes being on the same side as the sportsbooks, that makes me a bit weary.
James Madison has been carried by its defense that has been elite at shutting down opposing rushing attacks. It ranks first in the nation in Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards.
But Georgia State’s Grainger is coming off a matchup in which he threw for 350 yards and found the end zone twice.
Despite ranking sixth nationally in rush rate, he will carry that into this matchup, looking to mimic the success that Georgia Southern and Arkansas State found. Plus, he can present a whole new set of challenges with his legs.
Georgia State finds itself in a similar position as last season, needing to win its final two games to make it into bowl season. Whether or not it keeps that hope alive after this matchup remains to be seen. But the Panthers will keep this game close enough to cover.
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