It’s officially time to go bowling! The college football postseason will kick off on Saturday, December 16th, with the Georgia Southern Eagles taking on the Ohio Bobcats at 11:00 AM EST in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Bowl season looks a lot different than in the past, as most teams are a shell of themselves by the time the game rolls around due to the transfer portal and opt-outs.
Ohio is one of those teams that will not look like the team you saw during MAC Conference play, and with that, I’ll break down how those losses affected how I’m betting on both the point spread and total.
Entering the season, the Ohio Bobcats went in with big expectations for their offense since they were returning a high-end quarterback in Kurtis Rourke and a solid running back in Sieh Bangura. While the team did finish 9-3, that duo did not produce the offensive output many expected, as Ohio averaged 22.5 points per game and ranked 95th in EPA on that side of the ball.
To make matters worse for the Bobcats, Rourke and Bangura have entered the transfer portal and will not play this weekend. On top of those two, Ohio will also be without Miles Cross, who led the team in receiving touchdowns with five. This means the Bobcats will have Parker Navarro under center come Saturday, and he only attempted ten passes this season for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, while their offense is a mess, the bright side for Ohio is that none of their defensive starters have opted out of this game, and defense is the main reason they finished with nine wins. By holding opponents to an average of 15.9 points per game, the Bobcats ranked 6th in the country in that statistical category, so they will be a tough challenge for a Georgia Southern team that lost their final four games.
Unlike Ohio, the Eagles don’t have anyone of note missing this game; instead, they will just be coming into the matchup with no momentum. Offensively, Georgia Southern ranked 42nd in offensive success rate, averaging 30.6 points and 417.7 yards per game. The Eagles get a bulk of their offense from the passing game, as they were 4th in the country in pass play percentage, and while that led to 22 passing touchdowns for Davis Brin, it also led to 16 interceptions.
On Bet99 Sportsbook, the Georgia Southern Eagles are listed as (-3) point favorites, and despite their recent losing streak, I still think they can cover the number. The Eagles' biggest weakness this season was their defense, as they allowed 28 or more points in eight of their 12 games, but luckily for them, they are playing a Bobcats offense that was struggling even before they lost their quarterback.
Not only will the Bobcats be down to their third-string quarterback, but they are down to their third-string running back as well. This is a nightmare situation for a balanced offense that now needs to keep pace with a pass-heavy opponent. More than ever, the Bobcats will need to rely on their defense to keep them in the game. Still, with Georgia Southern averaging 45 pass attempts per game and running out their usual starters, it’s hard to imagine Ohio can keep them contained for four quarters.
The Eagles were 38th in offensive success rate on pass plays, and for as good as they were this season, Ohio was 60th in EPA per pass on defense. As long as Davis Brin can limit his turnovers, I think the Eagles can score enough to put the game out of reach for the depleted Ohio offense.
The point total for this game is currently set at 48.5 on DraftKings, and I’ll be taking the under for my second pick. The under went 9-3 this season in Ohio Bobcats games, and that was their starting offense on the field. Prior to losing everyone to the portal, Ohio was already 3rd in the country in time of possession, so there is a good chance they try to slow it down even more with the backups starting.
At the same time, even though Georgia Southern has a pass-heavy offense, they were 33rd in the country in time of possession, so this won’t be an up-and-down style of game. As I mentioned before, this game is on the Ohio defense, and the fact that they rank 13th in opponent third down conversion percentage will only help minimize the amount of time they are on the field and the number of possessions the Eagles get.
Georgia Southern (-3) on Bet99
Under 48.5 (-105) on DraftKings *odds subject to change