The underdogs have had more preparation time for this game Saturday night and are looking to atone for a poor effort on national TV last week as those Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-4, 0-3 away) pay a visit to the South Alabama Jaguars (3-4, 2-1 home) at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL at 7:30 ET in a game available on ESPN3
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Arkansas State as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of +103.
When we last saw Arkansas State, the Red Wolves were beaten handily 23-7 by UL Lafayette in an ESPN Tuesday Night game last week at home, although to be fair, the Ragin’ Cajuns appear to be the best team in the Sun Belt Conference this year on an inside track to the conference title, so Arkansas State is better than it looked in that game.
South Alabama comes off if a brutal loss last Saturday to Texas State 33-31 after appearing to having the game won in the final minute, only to watch the Bobcats come right back and kick the game-winning field goal in the final seconds for their second conference win in their first season in the Sun Belt.
The Red Wolves have lost three of their last four games since a 2-1 start, but looking at their four losses this year, besides the defeat to conference kingpin ULL, their other three losses all came vs. teams from BCS conferences on the road including a couple of heavyweights in Auburn and Missouri! That makes it difficult to get an easy gauge on this team based on pure numbers, as ASU was thoroughly outclassed with those BCS teams running roughshod through its defense.
Still, that tough slate should prove as nice preparation for the lesser conference teams on the schedule, much like when the Red Wolves beat Troy 41-34 in their first conference game of the year while holding the Trojans to only 3.0 yards per rush. Granted, they did not beat much in their other wins vs. Idaho and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but the Arkansas State SOS still grades out much higher than South Alabama’s does here because of those dates with Auburn and Missouri.
Yes, South Alabama has been in practically every game this season with the four losses coming by a total of 11 points, but the Jaguars are the favorites here so their inability to close out games can been seen as a major negative, particularly vs. a schedule rated 113th in SOS according to the Sagarin Ratings.
Even more disconcerting is that when team have reached the red zone vs. the Jaguars, they have been almost a certainty to score points having done so in 25-of-29 trips there, which the worst defensive rate in the Sun Belt Conference.
Add this all up and taking the points with the team that has faced a tougher schedule seems like the prudent move vs. a favorite that has not yet learned how to win Saturday.
College Football Pick: Arkansas State +3 (+103)