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Keegan Shoemaker of the Sam Houston Bearkats runs out of the pocket as we look at our Sam Houston vs. New Mexico State prediction.
Keegan Shoemaker of the Sam Houston Bearkats runs out of the pocket against the Brigham Young Cougars during the second half of their game. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP.

We have you covered with our top Jacksonville State-Sam Houston prediction for Thursday’s matchup based on the best college football odds from our best sports betting apps.

A pair of teams in their first season at the FBS level meet in the third of three games on Thursday night as the Sam Houston Bearkats host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. 

Jacksonville State’s first season at the FBS level has gone swimmingly, winning three of its first four games, including all three home games. Sam Houston is searching for its first win in this CUSA opener after being outscored by a combined 65-10 in losses to BYU, Air Force, and Houston.

Here is our best Jacksonville State-Sam Houston prediction and our college football picks (odds via our best college football betting sites; pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston prediction: Week 5

Under 36.5 (-110 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐

Jacksonville State plays a lightning-fast, up-tempo style under Rich Rodriguez, who has been a head coach at three different Power Five schools.

The Gamecocks made an interesting decision to move on from the experienced Zion Webb (2,384 total yards and 23 touchdowns in 2022) after the season opener in favor of Logan Smothers. The latter has responded with six total touchdowns and zero interceptions to start the season. However, Smothers is more of a game-manager in Rodriguez’s system while averaging six yards per passing attempt and doing most of his damage on the ground (218 yards rushing, four touchdowns).

Sam Houston’s defense matches up well against a run-first Gamecocks team, as it held BYU to 3.3 yards per carry and limited Air Force to just 18 first downs and 4.1 yards per tote. By comparison, the Falcons are averaging 372.7 yards on the ground in their other three games and 5.4 yards per carry overall.

This is a three-star play, as the Gamecocks shouldn't need to press too much offensively because the Bearkats have scored just 10 total points in 2023 and recorded eight or fewer first downs in consecutive weeks. Sam Houston is also coming off a game against Houston when the team recorded a 17.6% success rate and -0.093 EPA/Play, which ranked 130th and 122nd, respectively, among all FBS teams.

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Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston best odds

DraftKings (-110)


Bettors interested in playing the total face little to ponder regarding value among the best sportsbooks, as all are aligned with the same total of 36.5 points and standard -110 odds on both sides.

At 36.5 points, the total for this game is currently one of two totals for Week in the 30s, with Michigan State-Iowa the other.

Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston odds

Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston odds analysis

There has yet to be early movement on the total since it opened at 36.5 on Sunday afternoon. However, with the early betting splits being 63% in favor of the Over, it will be interesting to see if the number ticks up throughout the week. Under backers may want to wait at least 24 hours to see if they can take advantage of a better number. The Under is a combined 6-1 in these teams’ seven games. 

Like the point spread, all the best live betting sites are in unison, with Jacksonville State a 5.5-point favorite, though that number is up from an opening line of -4.5 at Caesars. Jacksonville State is currently getting 70% of the action.

FanDuel is posting the highest price for Jacksonville State’s moneyline odds (-230), while DraftKings is on the low end at -192.

Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston game info

  • When: Thursday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: Elliott T. Bowers Stadium, Huntsville, TX
  • How to watch: ESPNU
  • Weather: 72 degrees, 7% chance of precipitation, 6-mph northeasterly winds

Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston prediction made 9/25/2023 at 7:40 a.m. ET.

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