Betting Preview: JMU is a Field Goal Favorite Against South Alabama

By Blake Pace

These 2023 football Dukes certainly know how to keep things interesting.

After a blazing hot start to kick off the end of its three-game road trip JMU held onto what once was a 31-7 lead and left Utah unscathed to a final score of 45-38. I could yell at the clouds for a couple paragraphs here about play calling, predictable drive construction, or letting off the gas pedal, but we’re here to stick to being degenerate gamblers so I’ll save that for the rest of the boys on the JMU Sports News team.

The Week 2 Recap: JMU -6.5 (W) & u52 (L)

Overall Record: 2-4

Despite getting a less favorable line earlier in the week, one that dropped as low as -4.5 before kickoff, the Dukes were still able to cover the touchdown spread after squandering what was once a 24-point lead. A Jordan McCloud 74-yard bomb to Reggie Brown to retake the lead with under six minutes to play kept me from calling my therapist and rejoining an anger management program.

While the JMU defense was able to force three interceptions from Utah State’s McCae Hillstead, the freshman was able to throw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns through the air; another shaky performance from the Dukes’ secondary. The group also allowed the Aggies to rack up 38 points, absolutely bludgeoning the under 52.

At 2-4, we move on in an attempt for our first 2-0 sweep.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support this season.

The Lines: South Alabama at JMU (-3), o/u 50

This spread has bounced around from JMU -3 to as high as JMU -4.5 the last few days, but the movement has settled firmly on -3 since Monday morning after receiving sharp action on the South Alabama side. Meanwhile, the total crept as high as 52.5 but has since dipped itself all the way down to a nice even 50 burger.

The Picks: JMU -3 & u50

The JMU train keeps itself rolling this week.

Let’s start with the total first. I have tried hitting a JMU under on three separate occasions this season and have yet to come back victorious. I’m dipping back into the well one more time, as I think we might catch a fatigued James Madison football team and one that may just want to dominate the time-of-possession battle, dominate the trenches, and head into its bye week intact.

The Jaguars also like to control the pace of the game through the ground and are averaging 214 rushing yards per game over their last three contests. While I don’t think they’ve faced a defensive front during that stretch that matches JMU’s, they’ve yet to have a game with more than 30 pass attempts and really struggle to convert on third-and-long opportunities.

This could just mean both teams only choose to pass for 60 minutes, which would doom this under yet again, but I’m going to stick to this one final time before just rooting for points and more points every week.

JMU’s defense has been really solid in third-down conversion percentage (12th in the nation), and absolutely dominant in total sacks (tied for first) and rushing yards allowed (first). South Alabama is a very efficient and patient offense, but their passing game as a whole struggles in a protection and execution standpoint.

On the flip side, USA’s defense is middle-of-the-road on just about every account but really struggles getting opposing offenses off the field on third down. Now, the Dukes are awful at converting third downs themselves, but their passing offense has steadily improved and should provide a solid balance for the run game.

I expect a close, quick game that finishes to the tune of James Madison 26, South Alabama 21.

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