UMass vs. Georgia Southern Odds & Pick: Back the Minutemen In This Strange Spot (Saturday, Oct. 17)
Corey Perrine/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Fallon #3 of the Massachusetts Minutemen.
- The Massachusetts Minutemen have exactly one game on their college football schedule: Saturday's matchup against Georgia Southern.
- Will this game be their de facto championship or a throwaway game?
- Stuckey previews the odds and matchup, including his betting pick below.
UMass vs. Georgia Southern Betting Odds
|UMass Odds||+31 [BET NOW]|
|GA Southern Odds||-31 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+1425/-3096 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||62 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET|
In a bizarre college football season, UMass’ fall schedule might be the most bizarre thing we will see in 2020. As of Friday, the Minutemen have one game scheduled this fall: Saturday’s matchup in Statesboro against Georgia Southern.
Oddly enough, UMass actually defeated Georgia Southern back in 1998 for its biggest win in program history when it won its only FCS national championship.
For what it’s worth, these teams also met twice in the past four years. UMass won in blowout fashion 55-20 in 2017 and Georgia Southern returned the favor in 2018 with a 34-13 victory.
Let’s take a closer look at both clubs and examine this unprecedented scenario to figure out how to approach this game from a betting perspective.
After some initial hesitation, UMass decided to opt into the fall season in late September. However, as an independent member, it somehow had to find opponents. That proved very difficult as most teams already had their schedules finalized by the time UMass decided to play. It was potentially going to face fellow independent member UConn, but the Huskies decided to hold off on playing football until spring 2021.
Then, opportunity knocked last week when Georgia Southern had its game postponed after an Appalachian State COVID-19 outbreak.
So, what can we expect from UMass in what looks like a one-game fall season? Your guess is as good as mine. Have the players and coaches been taking practices seriously before they even had a game on the schedule? Even with just one game, motivation might be lacking.
On the flip side, the Minutemen could treat their one chance at a competitive football game this fall as their Super Bowl. It’s hard to say where this team is mentally.
However, I do know Georgia Southern has zero tape on UMass. The Eagles have no idea what to expect from a team that will have a new quarterback under center (Incumbent starter Andrew Brito didn’t even make the initial depth chart).
Historically speaking, this should give UMass an edge. Teams playing their first game of the season against teams that have already played at least once have historically covered at a greater than 55% clip. The film advantage matters.
If you just focus on this season, 30 teams have played their season opener against teams that have already played at least one game. Those 30 teams playing their first game have gone a ridiculous 23-7 against the spread (ATS) for a gaudy clip of 76.7%. They’ve also covered by an average margin of greater than a touchdown per game.
It’s also reasonable to think UMass goes all out for this one game scenario. I expect the coaches to empty the playbook, go for fourth downs aggressively and throw in a few trick plays.
In regards to the actual roster, this is a bad football team in head coach Walt Bell’s second year. Bell will at least have some experience to work with on defense and along the offensive line. However, UMass did lose a few key weapons and its leading rusher. Plus, we have no idea what we’ll get at quarterback from redshirt senior Mike Fallon or whoever else takes snaps under center.
If you want to take an optimistic view on UMass football, it can’t get any worse than last season. (I think?)
Not only did UMass have an absolutely dreadful offense, it had one of the worst defenses in college football history. UMass allowed an obscene 7.7 yards per play (last in the nation) and an almost unbelievable 52.7 points per game. No other team gave up more than 41 points on average. This was one of the worst defenses we’ve ever seen during a sad 1-11 campaign.
How much worse can it really get for a team that had an FBS-high nine true-freshman start a game last season?
Georgia Southern Eagles
Georgia Southern has won two of its first three games — each of which came down to the final play of the game.
For those not familiar, the Eagles run a triple-option offense. As a result, they are one of the most run-heavy teams in the country and play at a snail’s pace (75th out of 76 teams in Pace). Similar to the three service academies, Georgia Southern’s style limits possessions and bleeds clock, which makes it a very intriguing large underdog but a putrid large favorite.
Look no further than the Eagles’ games this season as evidence. They lost as two-touchdown underdogs to Louisiana on a last-second field goal. And their two wins came as massive favorites over UL-Monroe and Campbell by a combined six points.
The Eagles were favored in those two games by 20 and 28, respectively. They easily could’ve lost both outright. Campbell failed on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt with 15 seconds left, and ULM got down to the one-yard-line before time expired, preventing the Warhawks from a shot at a game-winning touchdown.
I’m actually fairly high on this Georgia Southern team, which returned 100% of its rushing production from last season, including senior quarterback Shai Werts. I think the Eagles are a legit sleeper in the Sun Belt but their style of play just makes them a dreadful large favorite.
For reference, the four FBS triple-option offenses are a combined 8-17-2 ATS (32%) when favored by more than four touchdown since 2005, per Bet Labs. If you want a larger sample size, they’ve gone 44-62-2 (41.5%) as favorites of 14 or more over that span.
Check out our new College Football PRO Report, where we highlight key factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.
If you listen to the Action Network Podcast, you know I almost have to bet UMass’ only game of the season.
In all honesty, this game is extremely difficult to handicap. We just don’t know what we’ll get from UMass. We’ve never seen a team in this unique one-game scenario. However, there are a few reasons why I’m going to hold my nose and take a shot on the Minutemen at +31 or better.
First off, I don’t need to be pushed very hard to fade a triple-option team as a 31-point favorite. Additionally, UMass can throw the kitchen sink at Georgia Southern, which has no idea what to expect on Saturday. Film edge in this spot every season is real.
Plus, I’m not sure Georgia Southern will keep its foot on the gas in a blowout with an enormous conference game on deck against an undefeated Coastal Carolina club that just upset an undefeated ranked Louisiana team on Wednesday night. As a result, we may see the starters come out earlier than usual. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Georgia Southern came out a little flat for one of the nation’s worst teams.
I wouldn’t go crazy on this game, but I see enough intangible reasons to take a flier on UMass. And again, I’ll never regret sinking along with a 31-point underdog against a triple option team.
Would it shock me if UMass loses 65-0? Absolutely not. After all, this is a team that inexplicably lost to Army’s triple option 63-7 last season. On the bright side, at least it saw the triple option last year.
If this ends in disaster, I will make some shirts saying “I bet on UMass in their only game of the 2020 season” with the final score on the back.
The Bet: UMass +31 or better.