South Alabama vs. Southern Miss Odds & Picks: Jaguars to Cover?

South Alabama vs. Southern Miss Odds

The Jaguars travel to Hattiesburg to extend their magical season while ruining Southern Miss’s senior day.

South Alabama has a relatively new football program, and they consider Southern Miss, a nearby group of five, to be a model program. The Golden Eagles will appreciate the compliment but are looking to rebuild their former powerhouse stature in the Sun Belt and reverse their 2-0 record against the Jaguars.

Both coaches — Kane Wommack for the Jaguars, Will Hall for the Golden Eagles — are pleased with their sophomore performances, but both know there is still work to be done.

For the Jaguars, that means continuing to win and staying alongside Troy in the division race should the Trojans make a mistake. For Southern Miss, it means another win for bowl eligibility, which would be an impressive turning point for this program and a testament to the strength of their defense.

It’s been an incredible second year for Kane Wommack in Mobile. His team is just a handful of points from an unbeaten season and they are well balanced on both sides of the ball.

They are level with Troy with just one loss in the Sunbelt, but because they lost to the Trojans they need to win and hope Troy falters to reach the conference championship game.

The balanced Jaguar attack is led by quarterback Carter Bradley and running back La’Damian Webb. Bradley, the Toledo transfer, has flourished on Major Applewhite’s offense, completing 64.6% of his passes for 2,548 yards.

The one-man band receiving corps of 2021 — Jalen Tolbert and not much else — is now a three-man attack, with Jalen Wayne, Caullin Lacy and Devin Voisin all posting extremely similar numbers at the wide receiver position. All three are between 44 and 51 receptions, and all are between 581 and 699 yards.

The passing game’s success has opened doors for Webb, the workhorse at back who has 179 carries for 938 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. The Jaguars are better at moving the ball with an efficient passing game — 29th in success rate in the air, vs. 109th on the ground — leading to big plays in soft fronts from Webb, who is ranked 35th nationally in explosive rushes ranked.

But even in Mobile, the defense is solid, especially in the secondary level. Cornerback Darrell Luter and safety Yam Banks give the Jaguars a pair of NFL prospects in the back end, and they elevated that defense to 15th overall in the EPA.

They are good at generating Havoc, ranking 36th, and Southern Miss offense is prone to negative plays and ranks 126th in Havoc prevention.

The Jaguars are excellent at snuffing out scoring chances. They are 34th in the country in ECKEL rate, meaning they don’t offer many scoring chances, and 11th in the country in points per ECKEL.

This is a great matchup against Southern Miss’s Scuffling Offense, which ranks 110th in creating ECKELs and 104 points per ECKEL.

While the Jaguars are a well-balanced unit, Southern Miss’s story of the season has been a quest for consistent play from the quarterback position.

This continued search has prevented the hasty offense and solid defense from fulfilling their potential, and the defense may be showing signs of wear.

Will Hall was forced by injuries and ineffectiveness to play quarterback rotation on musical chairs during his time at Hattiesburg.

Trey Lowe is currently in the driver’s seat; Last week he was impressive against Coastal’s appalling secondary, but two weeks ago he wasn’t impressive against Georgia State’s more robust stop unit. Was Lowe’s nice outing in Conway – 19 of 26 for 295 yards – real or a mirage against one of the worst pass defenses in FBS?

This is one of the worst offenses in the Sun Belt. Hall has a solid reputation this side of the ball, and with enough youth and potential in the quarterback room, there’s a belief the Golden Eagles will one day be productive. But that day is not in 2022.

Hall’s outfit is 120th in EPA/Pass and 127th in EPA/Rush. Running back Frank Gore Jr. and wide receiver Jason Brownlee are stars, and both are free to roam for the occasional big play, especially on the “Superback” Wildcat offense.

But those occasional big plays weren’t a reliable source of attacks as the team sits 116th in the win rate.

The defense, which has been solid all season, is beginning to fray at the edges. Both Georgia State and Coastal Carolina took early leads by running the ball over the past two weeks. The fact that Coastal did so without Grayson McCall is an even more worrying sign that the defense is weakening.

The season-wide stats are still impressive — Southern Miss’s defense is 33rd in the EPA. It’s efficient, ranking 16th in success rate, but increasingly prone to busts, now ranking 88th in explosive plays.

South Alabama vs Southern Miss Matchup Analysis

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South Alabama vs Southern Miss Betting Tip

I’ve watched a lot of football from the Golden Eagles this season and was impressed by their determination and creativity despite all the challenges they faced at the quarterback position.

But that’s starting to catch up to them, and their inability to control or move the ball is eating away at their defense.

The Southern Miss’ strong defense isn’t playing their best ball of the season, and worse offenses than South Alabama’s have uncovered them in recent weeks.

Trey Lowe’s performance last week was impressive but not sustainable against a talented Jaguars secondary. South Alabama should be able to control this one from start to finish, and the Southern Miss’ fight for bowl eligibility in a respectable season will come to its finale.

I’ll take the Jaguars onto the road and set the course.

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