NCAAF Odds, Picks for South Alabama vs. James Madison

NCAAF Odds, Picks for South Alabama vs. James Madison article feature image

Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan McCloud (James Madison)

South Alabama vs James Madison Odds

Saturday, Sept. 30
12 p.m. ET
South Alabama Odds
-115o / -105u
James Madison Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

James Madison returns to the friendly confines of Harrisonburg after a successful 3-0 road trip that featured wins over Virginia, Troy and Utah State.

The prize for a successful trio of conquests is a home game against a dangerous South Alabama squad that was one of the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt. The Jaguars have had a roller coaster September, as they were blown out by Tulane, beat Oklahoma State and then lost to Central Michigan.

Both teams sport veteran quarterbacks, dangerous skill position talent and some of the Sun Belt’s best individual defenders.

So, what's the best bet for South Alabama vs. James Madison? Let's find out.

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

South Alabama Jaguars

The Jaguars don't have JMU’s depth at the skill positions, but they do have a pair of gamebreaking stars in wide receiver Caullin Lacy and running back L’Damian Webb. Webb has already amassed 340 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, while Lacy has 26 catches for 435 yards and five scores on the young season.

Quarterback Carter Bradley, a Toledo transfer, has piloted this offense to the tune of a 72.5 QBR.

Notably, South Alabama’s offense plays well to James Madison’s weaknesses. The Dukes shut opponents down and force them to create explosives, but the Jaguars have already taken that route, as they're 69th in Success Rate and eighth in explosives.

South Alabama’s defense was supposed to be its calling card, but this unit has underperformed in two of its four games. The Jaguars were roasted by Tulane in the opener and repeatedly failed to stop a mediocre Central Michigan squad last week.

The Jaguars' defense is just middle of the pack in efficiency (76th in defending Success Rate) and explosives (66th), and near the bottom of the barrel in creating Havoc (117th).

Heading into the season, this unit had potential — with stars like defensive tackle Wy’Kevious Thomas and nickel Yam Banks — but the whole has been less than the sum of the parts.

James Madison Dukes

The Dukes took FBS by storm last year, but they might be even stronger this year.

They have regressed in some areas, but the rush defense is as nasty as ever.

Their defensive calling card is shutting down the efficiency of their opponents' rushing attack. The Dukes' front seven is tied for second in FBS in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

It all starts up front with nose guard James Carpenter, one of the best players in the country that no one knows about. He’s supported by an excellent pair of linebackers in Taurus Jones and Jailin Walker, but both missed last week’s game and their status for this one is in question.

Unfortunately, James Madison’s excellence up front is hampered by an underperforming secondary. JMU's defense ranks 12th in Defending Success Rate, but is 131st against explosives.

The Dukes also rank 127th in defending explosive passes, which plays into the hands of South Alabama.

James Madison will get theirs, too. The Dukes' offense has been good — but not perfect — in the early season.

Their biggest weak spot has been second-half run efficiency. In both the Troy and Utah State games, they held leads after intermission but allowed the games to remain competitive because they struggled to put things away via the ground game.

Overly conservative play calling has hampered James Madison, and the team would be well-served to keep riding the offense that generated the leads.

James Madison's offense isn’t perfect, but it’s quite good and is averaging a hair under 34 points per game.

Quarterback Jordan McCloud has done well in the early going and sports a 66.7% completion percentage with a 63.0 QBR. Last week, he threw his first two interceptions of the season, but he also contributed six touchdowns (two on the ground) in JMU's win.

He’s flanked by Kaelon Black, Latrele Palmer and Ty Son Lawton in the backfield.

Additionally, receiver Reggie Brown is a star and one of the best big-play threats in the Group of Five.

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South Alabama vs James Madison

Matchup Analysis

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

South Alabama Offense vs. James Madison Defense
Rush Success772
Line Yards259
Pass Success64110
Finishing Drives2655
Quality Drives4938
James Madison Offense vs. South Alabama Defense
Rush Success7044
Line Yards10680
Pass Success23121
Finishing Drives9083
Quality Drives10089
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling9699
PFF Coverage11258
Special Teams SP+2139
Middle 83974
Seconds per Play28.8 (97)27.2 (74)
Rush Rate59.5% (24)56.9% (48)

South Alabama vs James Madison

Betting Pick & Prediction

South Alabama’s defense has underperformed. Its offense is top-heavy, but creates big plays.

Meanwhile, James Madison’s defense can’t stop a big play.

At 49.5, I’ll take the over in this matchup, and play it to the key number of 51.

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