South Alabama Jaguars at Troy Trojans Pick 10/16/19

by | Oct 14, 2019 | cfb

South Alabama Jaguars (1-5) at Troy Trojans (2-3)
When: Wednesday, October 16, 8:00 p.m EDT
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Ala.
TV: ESPN2

Point Spread: TROY -14.5 (Bookmaker)
Total: O/U 56

Outlook For Week 8

A Wednesday game shouldn’t bother either of these teams, as they’ve been lying in wait for almost two weeks since they last played. Troy got slammed by a strong Missouri squad to fall to 2-3, but the Trojans have been very competitive in every other game they’ve played this season, losing a pair of tight contests at home to Arkansas State and Southern Mississippi. South Alabama suffered a heartbreaking home loss to Georgia Southern in double overtime last week on a Thursday night, which could prove devastating to the rest of its season, as South Alabama now essentially has to run the table to even have a chance at a bowl game.

However, if there’s one game where the Jaguars are going to be fired up, it’s this one. The Battle for the Belt isn’t a historic rivalry, but it matters to both of these teams as their primary rivalry contest ever since South Alabama began its transition toward Division I in 2012. Troy is the more established program, but the Trojans have historically struggled against their rival, holding a margin of only four wins to the Jaguars’ three. Troy won last year’s matchup comfortable, but South Alabama has been victorious in each of its past two trips to Troy.

How the Public is Betting the South Alabama/Troy Game

The lines haven’t been out long enough for the public to have any impact and the sharps haven’t stepped in yet. So, the openers are the current lines.

Injury Concerns

South Alabama:

Quarterback Tylan Morton has chosen to use a redshirt year and is out for the season.

Troy:

Quarterback Kaleb Barker exited the Trojans’ loss to Missouri with a leg injury and is questionable against South Alabama.

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When South Alabama Has the Ball

Cephus Johnson has taken control of the offense after Morton stepped aside, and it’s probably for the best. The Jaguars went absolutely nowhere in losses to Memphis and Alabama-Birmingham, and while Johnson hasn’t managed to earn a win yet, he has at least found the end zone, which he did twice against Georgia Southern.

But the most significant part of the Jaguars’ offense is running back Tra Minter. When he touches the ball at least ten times, the Jaguars are 3-1 ATS this season. Against Memphis and UAB, South Alabama gave up on the run early in the contest and got blown out from start to finish. That’s a major problem in this matchup because Troy’s strength on defense is against the run. If the Trojans control the line of scrimmage, this won’t end well for the Jaguars.

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When Troy Has the Ball

Is Barker going to be ready to play? If so, the Troy offense will be much better for it, as he’s proven a reliable decision-maker and an accurate thrower. If not, the Trojans will likely spend the game relying on their ground attack. Barker has been the key to the offense this year, but the Jaguars are actually worse against the run than they are against the pass. South Alabama’s run defense ranks 106th in the nation and gives up 200 yards per game, which means DK Billingsley should be able to run all day against the Jaguars’ front seven.

He might have to do that even if Barker does play because the Jaguars are pretty adept at stopping the pass. Granted, the Sun Belt isn’t exactly full of great quarterbacks, but ranking 35th against the pass and holding opponents to less than 200 yards a game in the air is a pretty solid

Betting Trends

Weird things tend to happen in rivalry games, and this series has been no exception. The road team has won the past four meetings outright, and the only time in the series that the home team has covered came in 2014 when South Alabama scored a 27-13 victory. That’s also the last time that the home team won the game, as Troy is a mere 1-2 against South Alabama at home.

The trends are on track to hold again, as Troy has covered the point spread just once in its past five home games and once in its past five overall. However, both of these teams have been covering machines once they get into conference play. Troy has covered in nine of its previous 12 Sun Belt games, while South Alabama has covered in all of its past four league games.

As for the total, something is going to have to give here. The under has hit in the Jaguars’ past four games, but the over has hit for Troy’s past four home games.

Weather Report

It’s still not going to be fall weather in southern Alabama, but it won’t be sweltering either, as temperatures are supposed to be around 78 degrees at kickoff on Wednesday.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Troy is easily the better team here. But I don’t know if Barker will play, and I don’t know if I can trust the Trojans to get away from their typical game plan and take what the Jaguars are willing to give them. Troy is a pass-first squad, but South Alabama is pretty solid against the pass and could cause the Trojans fits for a couple of quarters.

I expect Troy’s talent to eventually show itself, but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the Trojans to pull away from the Jaguars. This feels more like a two-possession win for the Trojans, and that means the wise play is to grab South Alabama and the points. Give me