South Alabama vs

Eastern Mich

at Mobile
Sat, Dec 23
4:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 229
Odds: Eastern Mich +17, Total: 45

Game Analysis

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South Alabama (-17)  30   Eastern Michigan  10

South Alabama will be without top running back La’Damian Webb (1007 yards at 5.4 ypr) and top WR Caullin Lacy, who caught passes for 1316 yards at 10.7 yards per target, which is tough to replace (the other WRs averaged 8.0 YPT). Starting quarterback Carter Bradley may also miss this game due to injury, as he’s reportedly been slow to recover from a knee injury that kept him out of the season finale. Desmond Trotter has a lot of starting experience behind center and I don’t think he’s much of a downgrade. Gio Lopez could also start, and he’s played at a comparable level too with his 5.4 yards per pass play in a start against a very good Troy pass defense (would allow 5.4 yppp at home to an average QB) being slightly better than Bradley’s compensated yards per pass play of -0.1 yppp. The Jaguars’ offense was average this season (6.1 yppl against teams that would allow 6.1 yppl to an average team) but I rate the attack at 0.6 yppl below average without Webb and Lacy, which equates to close to 4 points.

Eastern Michigan’s defense doesn’t look too bad given the 24.1 points per game and 5.7 yppl they allowed in 11 games against FBS foes, but those opposing offenses would combine to average only 4.9 yppl against an average defense. I rate the Eagles’ defense at 0.5 yppl worse than average after accounting for the outlier against Toledo (8.9 yppl allowed), but they’ll be without two key defensive linemen in DE Mikah Coleman, who led the team in sacks, and DT Alex Merritt, who I value at a combined 1.4 points. I project 425 yards at 6.0 yppl for the Jaguars in this game, regardless of which quarterback starts.

Eastern Michigan’s starting quarterback Austin Smith has decided to transfer after completing just 57% of his passes and averaging only 4.6 yards per pass play against FBS opponents (that would allow 7.4 yppp to an average QB). As bad as Smith was, I do think the Eagles are likely worse without him, as backup Ike Udengwu averaged only 2.8 yards on his 30 pass plays this season (against teams that would allow 7.0 yppp). Udengwu, or #3 QB Cam’Ron McCoy aren’t likely to be that bad after taking first-team reps for a few weeks and I’ll call for the standard drop in production from an experienced starter to a backup (about 2 points).

South Alabama’s defense was really inconsistent this season, with a some very strong performances and a few really bad ones (8.5 yppl allowed to Tulane in their opener and 7.4 yppl allowed to Texas State in their finale). The Jaguars’ run defense was consistently strong (4.0 yprp allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.0 yprp) and Eastern Michigan’s horrible pass attack (2nd worst among FBS teams and likely worse with a backup quarterback) isn’t likely to take advantage of a sometimes bad secondary that was only exploited by good quarterbacks – they also allowed 5.0 yppp or less in 5 of their 12 games. Overall, the Jaguars’ defense was 0.3 yppl better than average and is intact for this game. The math projects just 199 total yards at 3.4 yppl for Eastern Michigan in this game, which is not too low given that the Eagles averaged just 223 yards at 3.5 yppl (with their starting quarterback) in their 3 games against better than average defensive teams Jacksonville State, Ball State, and Toledo, who collectively rate the same defensively as South Alabama.

The math would have predicted just 47 total points in this game (with a 1.0 boost for low winds) without any adjustments, but both offenses are likely to be significantly worse without key players and I now project only 40.8 total points with South Alabama getting most of them (the math favors the Jags by 22.2 points, 31.5 to 9.3). Eastern Michigan has been good as an underdog under coach Creighton (36-13-2 ATS getting 2 points or more), but they were just 4-3 ATS as a dog this season and they lost by 19 points or more in all 3 games against teams that were within 6 points of being an average FBS team or better (by 19 to Minnesota, by 21 to Jacksonville State, and by 26 to Toledo), which would include South Alabama – even without their two offensive stars.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • South Alabama
  • Eastern Mich


  • Run Plays 33.0 32.7
  • Run Yards 173.3 131.3
  • YPRP 5.3 4.0


  • Pass Comp 22.4 16.5
  • Pass Att 32.7 26.9
  • Comp % 68.6% 61.3%
  • Pass Yards 260.5 207.5
  • Sacks 2.6 2.2
  • Sack Yards 15.9 13.1
  • Sack % 7.3% 7.5%
  • Pass Plays 35.3 29.1
  • Net Pass Yards 244.6 194.4
  • YPPP 6.9 6.7


  • Total Plays 68.3 61.8
  • Total Yards 417.8 325.7
  • YPPL 6.1 5.3


  • Int 0.8 0.9
  • Int % 2.3% 3.4%
  • Fumbles 0.8 0.7
  • Turnovers 1.5 1.6
  • Points 30.9 21.9
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