Sun Belt Conference play is set to begin this weekend for South Alabama as they will head on the road to JMU following their loss to Central Michigan. With the Dukes looking to pick up their second conference win, we’ll preview the game before going over my play on the total.
Through four weeks of the season, the South Alabama Jaguars offense has lived up to the preseason hype, while their defense has struggled to keep teams out of the endzone. After scoring 30+ points for the third straight weekend, South Alabama is now averaging 26.7 points per game this season, and they’ve done so behind the arm of Carter Bradley and legs of La’Damian Webb.
Bradley has started this year by throwing for 854 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. Despite having Bradley under center, the Jaguars have relied primarily on their run game, ranking 23rd in run play percentage, with Webb leading the charge with six touchdowns. In their 34-30 loss to CMU, Webb rushed for two touchdowns, but it was the defense that struggled and kept the Jaguars out of the win column.
After holding Oklahoma State to just seven points in week three, the Jaguars allowed CMU to rush for four touchdowns last weekend, and after that performance, the team now ranks 103rd in defensive EPA on rush plays. South Alabama’s defense will be challenged again this weekend by a JMU offense that is 37th in the country in points per game.
The 4-0 Dukes enter this weekend off a 45-38 win, in which they accounted for 512 total yards of offense. Quarterback Jordan McCloud led the team by throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, the Dukes now rank 59th in pass play EPA, according to CFB Graphs.
Defensively, this past weekend was the second time the Dukes allowed 30 or more points to be scored, as they allowed 402 passing yards in the game. That performance has them ranked 133rd in passing yards allowed per game, but they remain 1st in rushing yards allowed per game with an average of just 34.7.
The total for this game is currently listed at 49.5, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. Both offenses enter with high-powered arms at the quarterback position, and I think the Dukes have yet to play an offense that can be dangerous both through the air and on the ground like South Alabama is.
Ranked 52nd in the country in offensive EPA according to CFB Graphs, the Jaguars will go up against a JMU pass defense that is 117th in yards allowed per pass play with an average of 9.2. While I think Bradley can have a big game, I don’t think JMU has faced a running back like La’Daminan Webb this season. The Dukes have faced the lowest rush play percentage in college football through four weeks, and that will change this weekend since the Jaguars are 38th in the country in offensive success rate on offense.
Meanwhile, Jordan McCloud is taking on a South Alabama defense that is 63rd in defensive EPA on pass plays and 81st in yards allowed per pass play. South Alabama’s biggest struggles have been stopping the run, and ranking 103rd in defensive EPA on rush plays will not get the job done against a JMU offense that is 56th in offensive success rate on rush plays.