The Georgia Southern Eagles (3-2, 1-2) will have 25% of the 24,300 capacity allowed for fans at Paulson Stadium Thursday night as they take on the South Alabama Jaguars (3-2, 2-0) in Sun Belt Conference play to kickoff Week 9 of college football action. Wind and thunderstorms could become part of the story.
The Eagles have won all six meetings since they began playing annually in 2014, and they covered the spread in all of them until last season when the Jaguars lost 20-17 in overtime but covered the 7-point spread. Thursday’s spread is the lowest number in the series.
Perhaps this is the season that South Alabama finally gets over the hump. They’ve gone undefeated in Sun Belt play so far and are in first-place of the west division. They also won at Southern Miss as 11.5-point underdogs in their only road game which opened the season. Georgia Southern has won both of their home games but escaped with a 27-26 win as 29-point favorites against Campbell in the season opener.
In each of their season-opening wins, some context has to be given to the fact that none of the four teams involved had spring practice and the initial scramble to cope with the fear of COVID-19 in the dorms, classrooms, and locker rooms on campus. To some degree, it’s still difficult, but more manageable as more knowledge is gained.
LINE MOVEMENTS - Jaguars at Eagles
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened Georgia Southern -5.5 on Monday afternoon and in less than four hours it was down to -5. On Wednesday afternoon they dropped to -4.5 and three hours later they dropped to -4 as respected money bet South Alabama. The total has remained at 51 since opening it Tuesday afternoon.
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Kenny has Georgia Southern rated at his No. 90 team (94.5) with South Alabama coming in at No. 116 (91.5) giving us a neutral field rating of Georgia Southern -3 and then adding in a half-point for a small home-field edge with 75% of the stands empty. His number is -3.5 with a total of 55.
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Jaguars head coach Steve Campbell starts his third season, but he’s having his best performance so far as the team has declined in wins each of the last three seasons with last season being the worst at 2-10. But they played better than their rating with Campbell covering seven of 12 games last season and going 6-6 AS in 2018.
The Jaguars plan of attack is through the passing game and they’ve had lots of success downfield with returning starting QB, junior Desmond Trotter, although he’s had shoulder issues to keep in out of one game and they’ve readied the backup, junior Chance Lovertich, in every game. Both have combined to produce in an offense averaging 408 yards-per-game. Eight starters return on offense and seven on a defense that is allowing 410 ypg and has forced only one turnover. The Jaguars average score this season has been 26-24 and they are 4-1 ATS.
Chad Lunsford enters his fourth year as head coach. He took over the 2017 team midway through the season and finished 2-10 and then in 2018 they went an incredible 10-3. Last season they dropped to 7-6 and he’s got 14 of his players back from that team, including all the horses to make the option run effectively which includes the top-9 rushers from last season that ran for 253 ypg. They’ve run for 248 ypg on the ground this season, which ranks 13th in the nation. Their average score has been 27-20 so far and have covered just two of five games.
Thursday night’s game could feature thunderstorms, 79% humidity, and winds up to 17 mph with temperatures at 77 mph.
The Jaguars have stayed under in six of their last seven when being road underdogs. They also stayed under in their last five October games. The Eagles have stayed under the total in their last four home games.
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