College Football Odds, Picks & Predictions for James Madison vs Troy

College Football Odds, Picks & Predictions for James Madison vs Troy article feature image

Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Reggie Brown (James Madison)

James Madison vs Troy Odds

Saturday, Sept. 16
7 p.m. ET
NFL Network
James Madison Odds
-110o / -110u
Troy Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

James Madison continues its tough September slate with a road game against the Troy Trojans, the defending Sun Belt Conference champions.

This is another emotional spot for Curt Cignetti’s JMU program, as it didn't get its chance to challenge Troy for the Sun Belt title last season. The Dukes, of course, were ineligible for the league crown due to NCAA FCS-to-FBS transition rules.

Meanwhile, Jon Sumrall and Troy want to show that their league title was the real deal.

This big collision in the Sun Belt is a college football hipster’s dream, so how should you bet it?

Check out our NCAAF Betting Hub for more college football previews, predictions, news and analysis.

James Madison Dukes

The Dukes graduated to FBS last season and were instantly one of the best Group of Five teams in the nation. The FCS powerhouse took the Sun Belt by storm and finished 8-3.

Both their offense and defense are good for the Group of Five, and their run defense is good period. They have lived in the top 10 in defending Rushing Success Rate since they stepped into FBS last September.

The front is led by nose guard James Carpenter and a pair of excellent linebackers in Jailin Walker and Taurus Jones. But Walker, along with starting safety Jacob Thomas, left the Virginia game last week with injury and both are day-to-day.

Despite excelling at stopping the run and holding offenses to inefficient drives, coordinator Bryant Haines’ defense is susceptible to big plays and ranks 95th in allowing explosive plays.

Against a Troy offense that's mediocre in most regards — except in creating explosive plays — this could be a problem.

On offense, the Dukes returned all five offensive line starters and have an assembly line of talented position players.

This year’s batch is led by running back Kaelon Black and senior wide receiver Reggie Brown. Stony Brook transfer running back Ty Son Lawton was a darling of preseason camp and broke out in a major way last week, rushing for 79 yards and two scores on eight carries against Virginia.

The quarterback is Jordan McCloud, a two-time transfer and dual threat. He's averaging five yards per carry and has thrown for 368 yards with three scores and no interceptions (74.1 QBR).

That's not a game breaking stat line, but his veteran leadership and steady playmaking made him the choice to lead Cignetti’s balanced, potent attack.

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Troy Trojans

While James Madison was tearing through the Sun Belt’s East division last year, Troy was busy shutting down the West division. The Trojans won the league’s crown despite an offense that could be called “complementary," and only if you're trying to be charitable.

Last season’s offense finished 106th in SP+, but the defense finished seventh.

This season, the offense has improved (82nd) and the defense (55th) is struggling to repeat last year’s performance.

Quarterback Gunnar Watson and running back Kimani Vidal lead the offense. It's not an efficient attack — as it ranks 91st in Success Rate — but Troy does put up big plays and ranks 17th in explosives.

Troy’s offense is also susceptible to Havoc and giveaways (129th in Havoc Allowed), a bad matchup that could create short fields or lead directly to points against a JMU defense that ranks in the top 30 in FBS in Havoc.

The Trojans' defense was lights out last year, and although some talented playmakers return – cornerback Reddy Steward, and Richard Jibunor and T.J. Jackson on the edge – they lost a ton overall. The Trojans rank 118th on defense in Bill Connelly’s returning production metric.

Defensive coordinator Shiel Wood also departed to Tulane, and the slide has been noticeable so far.

While there's still time for things to improve, the early returns are discouraging. Small sample sizes abound, but Troy ranks 81st against Success Rate and 71st in defending explosives. This is not the 2022 Troy defense.

James Madison vs Troy

Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how James Madison and Troy match up statistically:

James Madison Offense vs. Troy Defense
Rush Success4471
Line Yards3830
Pass Success4840
Finishing Drives78115
Quality Drives87105
Troy Offense vs. James Madison Defense
Rush Success676
Line Yards5012
Pass Success111119
Finishing Drives6883
Quality Drives8433
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling9942
PFF Coverage7351
Special Teams SP+4096
Middle 811644
Seconds per Play26.8 (66)28.9 (94)
Rush Rate57.3% (33)53.9% (72)

James Madison vs Troy

Betting Pick & Prediction

This total opened up at 49.5, but has crawled down to 46.5.

I think JMU will be fired up for what is essentially its best shot at a “conference championship game” until 2024. I think JMU will score points against Troy's leaky defense and will even get some short fields off of turnovers.

I think JMU has a quality defense, but it can be exposed via poor tackling and explosive plays.

Meanwhile, Troy’s offensive modus operandi is simply hunting big plays, efficiency be damned. The Trojans won’t matriculate the ball down the field – no one does against the Dukes – but will get theirs through long pass plays.

I think this game could secretly turn into a shootout; both defenses are good, but they're flawed and coasting on reputation.

I like that the market is moving away from me and giving me a better number.

I’ll take the over at 46.5, and would play it to the key number of 48.

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