South Alabama at Southern Miss


I don’t have a play on the first FBS game of the season but I have some analysis and a lean on the underdog.


SOUTHERN MISS (-13.5)  30   South Alabama  20

Thursday, September 3 – 6 pm Pacific

The line on this game is a bit high based on my ratings, as I project the Southern Miss offense to be worse than expected while the South Alabama attack should be much better with sophomore quarterback Desmond Trotter at the controls after flourishing as the starter in the final 4 games last season.

The Jaguars’ attack was dreadful through 8 games before Trotter took over, as that unit averaged just 4.1 yards per play and 11.4 points against 7 FBS opponents. With Trotter, the Jags averaged 6.0 yppl and 26.0 points per game while rating at just 0.3 yppl worse than average after adjusting for opposing defenses faced (-1.9 yppl in the first 7 FBS games). I actually don’t expect Trotter to be as good in compensated yards per pass play as he was last season (7.2 yppp against teams that would allow 7.2 yppp to an average QB) because he’s unlikely to average 14.5 yards per completion again (even with all of his wide receivers returning). But, Trotter will put up significantly better numbers than the team did over the course of the season in 2019, and 7 other offensive starters return for South Alabama in what should be a decent offense by Sun Belt standards (but still 0.7 yards per play worse than average on a national scale).

South Alabama’s defense should slip despite having 7 returning starters, as the Jaguars defensive strength last season (the defensive line) is mostly gone, along with top defensive back Travis Reed (13 passes defended). South Alabama should still be decent defending the run thanks to a solid linebacking corps but the secondary should be horrible once again after allowing 7.6 yards per pass play in 2019 (against quarterbacks that would combine to average 6.5 yppp against an average defense).

Southern Miss senior quarterback Jack Abraham returns for his third year as the starter after a good 2019 campaign in which he averaged 7.8 yppp (although against teams that would allow 7.3 yppp to an average QB). Abraham wasn’t nearly as good in 2018 (1.1 yppp worse than average) and he’ll likely regress some this season without 3 time All-CUSA WR Quez Watkins, who is now a Philadelphia Eagle after averaging an impressive 11.6 yards per target for the Southern Miss Eagles in 2019. The loss of Watkins is worth 0.7 yppp and only 1 of the team’s top 7 receivers from last season are back after Jaylond Adams opted out of this season. I think the Southern Miss offense enters this season overrated and will likely be worse than average on a national scale after being just average last season when adjusting for the defenses the Eagles faced (6.2 yards per play against teams that would allow 6.2 yppl to an average offense).

The Eagles’ defense only returns 3 starters now that DL Turner, CB Showers and LB Boothe have opted out, but I actually don’t think the unit will slip any this season. It’s highly unlikely that Southern Miss will allow 14.3 yards per completion as they did a year ago (13.0 ypc projected), so their overall numbers should be about the same despite being less talented.

For now I’ll assume home field advantage will be cut in half (only 25% of seating capacity allowed for this game) and with that being the case my ratings favor Southern Miss by just 10 points with a total of 50 points. I’ll lean with South Alabama plus the points.


College Football Best Bet Service

My College Football Best Bets are 2152-1773-72 (55%) on a Star Basis for +226.5 Stars Since 1999 (+222.1 Stars on Sides, -20.4 Stars on Totals, and +26.8 Stars on season win totals and futures) and the Strong Opinions are a profitable 699-603-16 (606-520-14 on Sides and 93-83-2 on Totals).

My 2019 College Football Best Bets were just 36-33-3 for -5.97 Stars, which includes 5-3 for +4.98 Stars on season win totals. It was an odd season, as my math model performed well overall (the Strong Opinions were 22-16 and the Free Analysis plays were profitable) but not that well on the Best Bets. The sub-par record on Best Bets is partially explained by being a randomly bad -17 in turnover margin (-11 in fumble margin) on my 49 Best Bet sides. That led to a -2.5 games in the luck department, which is the difference between being a decent 39-31-2 rather than 36-33-3 on the Best Bets.

I still feel good about my math model and methodology as I head into the 2020 season. The Best Bet sides have been good for my entire career and the changes I made to my model prior to the 2017 season to predict totals better has worked well (Best Bet Over/Unders are 39-22-1 the last 3 seasons).


You can subscribe to my College Football Best Bets service for just $495 (half the normal price due to about half the number of games on the schedule.

The NFL and College Football combination package is just $1295.

Note: If the season is cut short refunds for the remainder of the season will be issued.


NFL Best Bet Service

2016-19 NFL Best Bets are 222-166-2 (57.2%)  – 132-78-2 (63%) on Sides!

2016-19 NFL Strong Opinions are 157-116-7 (57.5%)

After a great 2018 NFL season (45-26 on Best Bets) the 2019 NFL season was a letdown as the Best Bets were just 40-39 (11-7 on 2-Star plays and 29-32 on 1-Stars) for +0.2 Stars of profit. The Strong Opinions were 34-23-3 for the season.

The 2019 NFL season was a frustrating, as we just weren’t been able to win as many close games as we lost in 2019 (5-10 on Best Bets decided by 3 points or less after being 11-7 on such games in 2018), but the long term results of the play-by-play model are still very good and the Best Bets and Strong Opinions combined for a solid 74-62-3 mark in 2019.

The results since 2016, when I started using play-by-play data and advanced metrics, with adjustments for personnel, has been good on both Best Bets and Opinions.

2016-19 NFL Best Bets are 222-166-2 (57.2%)  – 132-78-2 on Sides, 75-70 on totals, 2-3 1st-half totals, 5-9 team totals, 7-5 teasers, 1-1 season win totals.

2016-19 NFL Strong Opinions are 157-116-7 (57.5%) – 66-65-6 sides, 62-43-1 totals, 1-1 1st-half sides, 4-0 1st-half totals, 3-1 Team Totals, 2-1 teasers, 19-5 Post-season prop bets.


You can subscribe to my NFL season package for $995.

The NFL and College Football combination package is just $1295.

Note: If the season is cut short refunds for the remainder of the season will be issued.