Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee kicks off this Wednesday at 8:00pm EST in Murfreesboro as a home game for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee is currently a -4.5 favorite and -186 on the moneyline while the total is set at 51.5. Read on for more Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee best bets and predictions as Jacksonville State looks to continue their impressive start to the season with another outright win.
Jacksonville State Vs. Middle Tennessee Prediction & Best Bet
Midweek football has finally arrived and with it comes 50 straight days of gridiron action. Kicking off the 50 straight days of football comes a showdown between the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Not exactly the most appealing matchup on paper, but a fun one nonetheless with plenty of value for our betting pleasure.
Jacksonville State has gotten off on the right foot, starting the season 4-1 off the backs of their defense and ground game. Mirroring your dad’s type of football, beating teams with defensive physicality and dominating the time of possession with a stout run game that is tough to get off the field. Calling a run play at the fourth highest rate in the nation, the Gamecocks have backed their success on their ability to constantly churn out yards by ranking 41st in Off Rush Success Rate.
Their emphasis on their rushing ability is due to their inability to generate any sort of pass success. They rank near dead last across the board in advanced passing metrics, ranking 125th in Off Pass PPA, 121st in Success Rate, and 122nd in Explosiveness. The pass attack has been so bad that the Gamecocks have tried out two quarterbacks with Zion Webb and Logan Smothers splitting duties throughout the season.
Smothers has fared far better off, using his conservative style to burn the second level to the tune of 474 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. More importantly, it’s his dual threat ability that will really give the Blue Raiders defense fits as he has added another 255 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
This will give Middle Tennessee fits as they rank a lowly 103rd in Def Rush Success Rate. Simply put, the Gamecocks should have no issue with cutting the distance to gain in half with each rush attempt. Constantly putting their offense in a better position to succeed.
Jacksonville State Vs. Middle Tennessee Prediction & Best Bet: Jacksonville State +4
Jacksonville State Vs. Middle Tennessee Betting Odds
Even with both teams off to drastically different starts, oddsmakers still give the Blue Raiders the edge by opening them as a -4.5 favorite. Bettors are in disagreement, taking the Gamecocks down to as low as -3.5 in some shops. An eye-opening number as reputable power raters have this as a near pick’em, instantly making the Gamecocks a play at the current number.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 51.5. Bettors are in agreement with the total, keeping the number the same since the opener as of writing. This will be heavily predicated by the Blue Raiders ability to find success on offense, ranking well below average across the board while Jacksonville State dominates on that side of the field.
Jacksonville State Vs. Middle Tennessee Key Matchups
Can Jacksonville State limit Middle Tennessee’s dual threat quarterback Nicholas Vattiato?
Nicholas Vattiato Vs. Jacksonville State Front Seven
Middle Tennessee’s struggles come as no surprise as their offense is as abysmal as it gets. The metrics back that sentiment up as they rank 100th in Overall Off Success Rate, 99th in Points per Opportunity, and 89th in Havoc Allowed.
CONFERENCE USA TOTAL QBR SEASON (OVERALL RANK)
1 Kaidon Salter/Liberty 71.9 (38)
2 Austin Reed/Western Kentucky 67.4 (42)
3 Diego Pavia/New Mexico State 62.6 (59)
4 Logan Smothers/Jacksonville State 49.7 (84)
5 Nicholas Vattiato/Middle Tennessee 44.9 (93)
6 Gavin Hardison/UTEP… pic.twitter.com/2L97DJX44w
— CFB Focus 🏈 (@cffmwachsman) October 2, 2023
The Havoc Allowed will especially be an issue in this matchup as the Gamecocks have feasted on opposing offenses who struggle to take care of the ball. They rank 28th in Def Havoc and now get the opportunity to rattle Nicholas Vattiato who has struggled with interceptions early into the season.
With the Gamecocks heavy use of the run, they will greatly benefit from added possessions as they continue to bleed the clock to their own benefit. Expect a heavy dose of the blitz to ramp up the pressure, daring Vattiato to beat them in scrambling situations. Not only does JVSU rank 28th in Def Havoc, but they also rank sixth in Def Success Rate, 26th in Explosiveness, and 18th in Def Points per Opportunity.