Troy vs South Alabama | College Football Odds, Picks & Predictions (Thursday, October 20)
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kane Wommack (South Alabama)
Troy vs South Alabama Odds
We might not have #MACtion yet, but we do have a Thursday night Sun Belt Showdown, as the top two teams in the West Division, South Alabama and Troy, square off.
The rivalry between the Jags and the Trojans is a heated one. However, Troy has consistently come out on top, leading the all-time series 7-3. The Jaguars have not emerged victorious in The Battle for the Belt since 2017.
But this year's South Alabama squad is off to its best start in program history, currently 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. The Jaguars' only loss of the season came against UCLA at the Rose Bowl, and the Bruins are still undefeated.
The Jaguars have also yet to lose a game at home, but can the Trojans give them their first loss in Mobile?
Troy is on a bit of a hot streak itself. The Trojans have two losses on the season, but their first came against Ole Miss in Week 1 — which is still undefeated — while their second came via a miraculous Hail Mary by App State as time expired.
Both teams enter on short rest having played on Saturday.
Which one can make the most out of a short week and get it done in a rivalry matchup?
Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson had to leave the game against Texas State on Saturday in the third quarter.
Trojans head coach Jon Sumrall said this week that Watson could've returned to the game if needed, and both quarterbacks — he and West Virginia transfer Jarret Doege — will be available for the matchup with South Alabama.
The Trojans are third-worst in the Sun Belt in scoring offense, but have been much better on the defensive side of the ball, holding opponents to just 19.2 points per game.
The Troy defense is led by linebacker Carlton Martial, a native of Mobile who is 4-0 against the Jaguars. He was not recruited by his hometown team and instead walked on at Troy.
He now leads the defense with 63 tackles on the season and is on pace to break the all-time FBS record with 505 so far in his tremendous five-year career.
South Alabama will challenge Troy both in the air and on the ground. The Jaguars rank 26th in Offensive Explosiveness and 24th in Pass Play Success Rate.
However, the Trojans should put up a fight, as it ranks 38th in Pass Play Success Rate Allowed, as well as fourth in Standard Down Explosiveness Allowed.
The Jaguars could very well be an outside contender for a New Year's Six Bowl, but to do so, they'll first have to get past the Trojans.
South Alabama ranks a stout 14th in Defensive Passing Down Success Rate, as well as 31st in Defensive Finishing Drives.
Finishing Drives is one of the areas in which the Jaguars will have one of the biggest advantages, as the Trojans rank outside the top 100 on offense. The Trojans also rank outside the top 100 in Standard Down Success Rate, which has consistently put them in difficult spots on third downs.
On the other hand, the South Alabama offense has been insane, as just last week it put up 600 yards against UL Monroe, with 420 of those yards coming through the air in a 41-point effort.
The Jaguars rank second in the conference in scoring offense in large part thanks to quarterback Carter Bradley. The Toledo transfer is third among Sun Belt quarterbacks with 282.3 passing yards per game.
Troy vs South Alabama Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Troy and South Alabama match up statistically:
Troy Offense vs. South Alabama Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
South Alabama Offense vs. Troy Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||37||54|
|Seconds per Play||27.4 (88)||25.9 (53)|
|Rush Rate||48.1% (98)||52.5% (73)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Troy vs South Alabama Pick
Both teams matchup well and have had amazing starts to their seasons. However, I believe this is finally the year South Alabama claims The Belt and ends its losing streak in this rivalry.
South Alabama is the more talented team, it has more depth, and there are questions around who will be under center for Troy. The Jaguars can find success both through the air and on the ground, as they have been one of the most balanced offenses in the Sun Belt.
Not to mention South Alabama has a significant advantage on third downs, as the Jaguars rank seventh in the country in Third Down Conversion Rate (53.33%).
On the other hand, Troy's defense is outside the top 100 in Third Down Conversion Rate Allowed (46.81%).
Back the Jaguars as high as three-point favorites. I would not go past the key number of three in this rivalry game, and I would take the Jaguars at -3 down to -130.