In the NFL, a unit’s improvement can be plainly seen almost no-matter the opponent. For instance, a squad might give up 40 points per game over 2 or 3 successive weeks, then pitch a shut-out over the Browns. Though the opponent wasn’t a world-beater, the defense still held an NFL offense to 0 points after weeks of struggle.
But in the college ranks, such determinations are more subtle – and crucial, if one is to make a successful bet.
Take the South Alabama Jaguars, set to visit the Georgia State Panthers this Thursday night. The Jaguars began the season by giving up 91 points to Ole Miss and Oklahoma State combined. Later weeks brought 2 consecutive porous defensive outings in losses to La Tech and Idaho. But then the defense suddenly stiffened. The Jags held Troy scoreless through 3 quarters in a 19-8 win, stud DE Rocel McWilliams landing 2 sacks. The squad followed up by beating Louisiana-Monroe by 10 points.
The visitors obviously can’t handle a Power-5 offense. But they’re getting better on their own level.
Troy blew away Georgia State 34-10 last weekend. But can South Alabama continue to improve on ‘D? Bettors think so. The line began at a pick’em and is moving toward the visitors.
Who: South Alabama Jaguars at Georgia State Panthers
When: Thursday, October 26th, 7:30 PM EST
Where: Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Lines: USA (-2) at GSU (+2) / O/U Total: (49.5)
Georgia State does not match up well with the Jaguars in what will be a crucial conference game for both teams. The Panthers are not a terrific running team, averaging a barrel-bottom 3.0 ypc on the season. That plays into the hands of the Jaguars, who gave up 300+ rushing yards to Louisiana-Monroe but defended the pass very well.
Conner Manning is a competent QB for the hosts, and has a talented WR to throw to in Penny Hart, who has caught 6 touchdown passes on the year. But the defense has only looked good against weak teams.
In contrast, the Jags have a quality pass rush and an excellent safety in senior Jeremy Reaves. USA’s special teams is also above-average for a Sun Belt school, PK Gavin Patterson going 7-of-9 from 30+ yards so far in 2017.
We’re liking the Jaguars to continue to improve and knock off the Panthers on the road. Look for GaSt to turn the ball over once or twice, setting up an opportunity for the superior ground game of South Alabama to carry the day with an early lead in hand.
Be patriotic and pick USA (the other USA) to cover.