Betting Preview: JMU Football Small Favorite Against Georgia Southern

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Blake Pace

Both myself and the James Madison football team needed a Saturday free of competition; a chance to heal both physically and mentally. The Dukes, who saw their three-game road trip finally come to an end with a home bout with the Jaguars of South Alabama, earned their bye week with an unblemished record of 5-0. Limping into the bye with some key injuries, there was no better time to have a week off then at the conclusion of a chaotic first five weeks.

Myself, well, I just keep betting the under in these JMU games and somehow refuse to accept that my one-year-old nephew could throw for 300 yards against the JMU secondary. It would be one thing if I was just placing these bets in secrecy, but having them written down here for you all adds the element of embarrassment attached to the slowly depleting wallet I find myself experiencing. Oh well, for the love of the game.

The Week 5 Recap: JMU -3.0 (W) & u50 (L)

(Overall Record: 3-5)

James Madison, for the second week in a row, jumped out to a sizable first half lead — this time up to 24-7 — only to watch it dwindle in the second half and cause chest pain for bettors and JMU fans alike. 

I keep hoping that the Dukes’ offensive gameplan, one that looks tremendous in the first half and regresses to 2005 in the second, would mean an under bet eventually hits in one of these contests. However, 17 second-half points from the Jaguars and a lone 66-yard touchdown from McCloud and JMU flipped this under by four points. 

At 3-5, we’re still hunting for our first unblemished slate, but I’ll be damned if we’re not at 55 percent or better by the end of the year.

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

The Lines: GASO at JMU (-3.5), o/u 58.5

This spread has danced ever so slightly up to -4.5 at different points since opening but has settled down to -3.5 in favor of the Dukes within the last couple of days. The total has been all over the map, getting as high as 61.5 and as low as 57.5, but has also settled at 58.5 since the weekend.

On the year Georgia South is 4-1 against the spread and an armpit hair away from being 5-0. Despite being one of the higher-scoring programs and being one of the worst scoring defenses in the country, the overs have hit in just one of their first five games. JMU has now covered three straight games in a row after starting the year 0-2 versus the spread, with the over hitting in three of their five contests.

The Prediction: JMU -3.5, o58.5 & a bonus add at the bottom

A rested JMU program and an opponent with a strong aerial attack? Time to stop getting cute and just root for the Dukes and a whole lot of points.

Georgia Southern brings a very middle-of-the-pack defense to Bridgeforth this weekend. They’re slightly better at defending the pass than the run and are a top-20 program in takeaways, but really struggle sacking the quarterback and are 83rd in yards allowed per play. JMU has done a great job finding balance in its offense the last two weeks, something that I think will eventually help ice this game in the fourth quarter.

On the flip side, I don’t worry much about the Eagles’ lack of a balanced offense and their 94th-ranked rush attack because their strengths fit perfectly into the weak point of the Dukes’ defense. Quarterback Davis Brin has this offense ranking top five in first downs per game, top 10 in passing yards per game and top 15 in points scored per game. JMU’s passing yards allowed per game is all the way down to second-worst in college football, something teams really should start attacking early on in games if they want to avoid halftime deficits.

Almost a year ago to the date these two teams combined for 83 points and 1,046 yards through the air. While not as chaotic as their 2022 showdown, I expect an explosive game from both quarterbacks that concludes itself at James Madison 41, Georgia Southern 26.

BONUS PLAY: I’m going to try and take advantage of the hot starts the JMU offense has been riding, so let’s add JMU’s first half spread of -2.5 as we try to rack up some wins.

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