Arkansas State Red Wolves (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. South Alabama Jaguars (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 8:00PM EST
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
TV: ESPN 2
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARST -6/USA -6
Over/Under Total: Off
The Arkansas Red Wolves come into Mobile on Tuesday to face the South Alabama Jaguars in Tuesday Sun Belt Conference action. Arkansas State is just 2-3, but coming off a conference win over Idaho on the 3rd, 49-35. After making 5 straight bowls, the Red Wolves have some work to do to get back there this season. They have a tough one on their hands against a South Alabama bunch that is coming off a conference win over Troy, 24-18, also on the third. Both teams enter this game with a little extra rest.
South Alabama, for those not in the know and there are many, is a relatively new program that jumped up to the FBS rather quickly, with this being their third full year as a Sun Belt entity. The Jaguars even made a bowl game last season. Theyve had some interesting results this season. They were smoked by both Nebraska and North Carolina State, but thats to be expected for a Sun Belt team still finding its bearings against that type of opposition. They won their first conference game in their last outing. And in week three, they showed their class in marching into Qualcomm Stadium to beat the San Diego Aztecs, 34-27 in overtime.
Starting for the Jaguars at quarterback is former UAB QB Cody Clements, who came over to South Alabama when the Alabama-Birmingham program folded. Hes been OK, completing just over 50% of his passes, with 7 TD throws and 6 picks. Hes not terribly mobile and the South Bama offense can sometimes be rather one-dimensional. A bulk of the offense is carried by running backs Xavier Johnson and Tyreis Thomas. The aerial attack features a pair of good receivers in Gerald Everett and Josh Magee, who is developing into a nice deep threat. Its an offense that can be depended on for maybe 30 points in spot like this. They wont blow anyone away, but they can produce and hope their defense keeps them in there.
In their wins, the defense has been key for South Alabama, coming through in clutch situations and chipping into the team effort with big plays. In their win over Troy, Kalen Jackson was all over the field and had two interceptions. Not counting the losses to NC State and Nebraska, the defense has given up 23, 27, and 18 points, which is generally good enough against similar-caliber opposition. Theyve taken some lumps this season, but are 1-0 in-conference and can still do some big things in the Sun Belt as they build toward another bowl berth, which would be an additional notch in this teams belt as they continue their march toward respectability.
In their three losses this season, Arkansas State has lost to two ranked teams and another that later became ranked. So, its hard to take a Sun Belt team to task for losing to nationally-ranked teams. They are also 1-0 in the conference and can still extract some success out of a season that began at 2-3. The losses to Toledo and USC were lopsided beatings, but they actually had Missouri on the ropes, before losing, 27-20. In their two wins, they have scored 119 points. At 2-3, the Red Wolves may be a bit underrated, at least in the context of a Sun Belt Conference game.
In their win over Idaho, the Red Wolves got a huge game out of running back Michael Gordon, who had been so-so in games leading up to that. Against the Vandals, he ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns. All told, they had 333 yards on the ground, with Warren Wand and Johnston White also chipping in with a series of nice runs. Redshirt freshman QB James Tabary has been getting increasingly comfortable, as his performances continue to improve. Hell take his knocks. There have been times when hes been rattled into making mistakes, but hes shown flashes of high accuracy and should give them something to work with later in the season, as he builds his experience. His first Sun Belt game was a success, as he efficiently ran the offense, while leaning on the pillar that is their running game. But Idaho is a little easier than South Alabama figures to be at home on Tuesday.
Defensively, Arkansas State has seen mixed results, as well. Theyve been having different playmakers stepping up like Rocky Hayes, who already has three interceptions. Giving up 55 to USC is bad, but understandable. They held Missouri to a respectable 27 points, before giving up 37 to Toledo and 35 to the Vandals, which is a little on the high side. If they play D the way they have over the past several weeks, its iffy whether they will be able to sufficiently subdue the Jaguars.
In the big picture of things, this game may barely register a ripple. But its big for the Sun Belt, with the winner of this game emerging as a conference contender. Its all relative and this means a lot for these teams. Not everyone is shooting for the CFP or a BCS Bowl game. For South Alabama, it would mean a lot for a young team to beat one of the more higher-quality conference representatives over the past handful of years in Arkansas State.
In a game last season between these two teams where a lot of pieces were different, Arkansas State won, 45-10, in a lopsided beating absorbed by the Jaguars, who couldnt get much of anything going. That was against a more-powerful Arkansas State that was on a late-season roll. This is a differently-textured game where a lot of the same pieces are now gone. I see a close game where South Alabama is in it until the end.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the South Alabama Jaguars plus 6 points. Bet your pick at an online bookie where you only lay -105 odds instead of the more expensive -110 that your sportsbook is socking you! Why pay more money for the same product? Make the switch TODAY! –> 5Dimes
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