Troy-South Alabama Betting Preview: Will Trojans Ground Game Take Over?

Troy-South Alabama Betting Preview: Will Trojans Ground Game Take Over? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sawyer Smith and Evan Orth

Troy-South Alabama Betting Odds, Pick

  • Odds: Troy -12.5
  • Over/Under: 55.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time college football odds and track your bets.

Troy travels to South Alabama is a double-digit favorite, looking to keep pace with Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt East.

The Trojans have turned to a new quarterback in Sawyer Smith after losing starter Kaleb Barker earlier this month. Smith has struggled, completing 23 of 40 passes for 216 yards (for a lowly 5.4 yards per attempt) over the last two games.

But Smith has continued to lead an excellent Troy rushing attack. If you count sacks against passing stats, he has 200 yards on 27 carries this season (7.4 per rush). The Trojans rank 61st in rushing S&P+, and second in rushing explosiveness.

Trends to Know

South Alabama has hit the over in six of seven games this year thanks in large part to a porous defense. Troy is 5-2 to the over.

The under is 42-26-1 in weekday Sun Belt games since 2005. Overall, the under hits in weekday college football games at a 52.5% clip.

Bet to Watch

One of the keys to capping this game is knowing the relationship between South Alabama offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield and Troy head coach Neal Brown.

Edenfield had various roles at Troy over the last decade, including offensive coordinator, before joining the South Alabama staff this summer.

But Brown’s background included offensive coordinator stints at Kentucky and Texas Tech before coming to Troy, so he handled the play calling. Edenfield wanted to take on play-calling duties, and his relationship with Steve Campbell led to his move to South Alabama. So there’s some familiarity on both sidelines.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride in Sun Belt play for Edenfield. South Alabama scored 20 total points in its last two conference games against Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. The Jags are 117th in offensive efficiency, which indicates South Alabama has relied on big plays to move the ball (29th in explosiveness). Troy is 28th overall in defending explosiveness, which should limit chunk gains.

The Action Network power ratings make this game Troy -15, with S&P+ at -11 and ESPN FPI at -12. This number should steam to -14 before finding some contrarian support for South Alabama closer to game time, so take it now if you want the Trojans.

I don’t expect South Alabama to have an answer on defense for Troy running back B.J. Smith, who is tied for 16th nationally in rushing touchdowns with eight. The South Alabama defense is 87th in overall Havoc, which pales in comparison to Troy’s defensive rank of 20th.

I’m backing the Trojans at -12.5, but with so many Troy ties on the opposing sideline, we will see what Brown elects to do with the lead in the second half.