South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan: Prediction & Odds (12/23/23)

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan kicks off this (12/23/23) at 7 p.m. EST in Mobile, Alabama as the host site for the 68 Ventures Bowl. Get South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan predictions and best bets below. Our best bet is under 46.5 as points should come at a premium.

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan Prediction

When handicapping bowl games, it’s vital to stay on top of news regarding opt outs, transfers, and injuries as they can create a massive swing in the market. This game is a prime example of that, featuring plenty of changes that will drastically alter the identity of both teams. South Alabama’s offense is decimated by transfers and injuries while Eastern Michigan is losing key pieces on both sides of the football. For more news regarding bowl season roster changes, you can read it here.

The South Alabama transfers and injuries are especially intriguing as they have been pegged as the dominant favorite heading into this contest. They will be without stud wide receiver Caullin Lacy who has hit the transfer portal while lead running back La’Damian Webb will miss the game due to injury. Worse yet for the Jaguars, they have major question marks at quarterback as starter Carter Bradley is also potentially missing the game due to injury.

Losing the top player at quarterback, running back and wide receiver spells potential disaster for the Jaguars offense, having to play a blend of backups at short notice. Bradley may still give it a go, yet he is trending downward as backups Gio Lopez and Desmond Trotter are now taking reps as his potential replacement. With backups at every skill position, it’s safe to say that the Jaguars impressive offense metrics are expected to regress back to average as they struggle with downfield consistency.

The offense has been a strength for South Alabama all season long, ranking 52nd in Success Rate, fourth in Explosiveness, and 18th in Points per Opportunity. The one glaring weakness they had when on offense is with their inability to take care of the ball. The Jaguars clock in at 73rd in Havoc Allowed and will now be more prone than ever to coughing up the ball with backups in at key positions.

Luckily for South Alabama, and more importantly the under, Eastern Michigan’s offense has been a dumpster fire throughout the whole season. It’s not just bad, it’s near league worst when describing the Eastern Michigan offense as they rank 119th in Success Rate, 125th in Explosiveness, 79th in Points per Opportunity, and 123rd in Havoc Allowed. The low rating in PPA is especially vital as points should come at a premium against a Jags defense who ranks 22nd in Def Points per Opportunity.

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan Prediction: Under 46.5

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan Best Odds

Before the opt outs and injury news, oddsmakers had this as the Jaguars game to lose by opening South Alabama as a -14 favorite. Even amidst all the changes, bettors still like their chances by betting them up to as high as -17. A head scratching line movement, and one that may provide value towards the other way in favor of Eastern Michigan if their offense remains intact.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 48.5. With the changes at key positions for South Alabama, as well as Eastern Michigan fielding a weak offense, bettors have backed the under by taking it down to 46.5 as of writing. EMU is also a sneaky good unit when defending in the red zone, ranking 40th in Def Points per Opportunity.

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan Key Matchups

Can South Alabama limit Eastern Michigan’s ground game?

Eastern Michigan Rush Attack vs. South Alabama Front Seven

Eastern Michigan is also dealing with quarterback uncertainty, potentially being without Austin Smith who opted into the transfer portal. Should he not play, backup Ike Udengwu would be his replacement. Udengwu plays as more of a running threat, being used in designed runs when under center.

Luckily for South Alabama, their defense has not been hampered by the transfer portal or opt outs and remain firmly intact as of writing. They have also excelled at stopping the run all season long, ranking 26th in Def Rush Success Rate, 18th in Def Rush PPA, and 19th in Def Rush Explosiveness. With little threat of getting burned through the air, expect South Alabama to stack the box at a heavy rate and smother the Eastern Michigan running lanes.

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Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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