October 4, 2017
There is one pick tonight.
Take Arkansas State -8.5 spread against Georgia Southern risking 3% of the bankroll.
Both Arkansas State and Georgia Southern (predictably) struggled during their non-conference slate to start the season, as both took a big step up in competition to face Power 5 teams. That being said, this is the start of conference play and Arkansas State has owned the Sun Belt Conference for the better part of a decade and are once again the favorites to win the title this season. The Red Wolves are 25-17 since 2014 and are 15-1 in Sun Belt games over the last two seasons. Arkansas State gave Nebraska all it could handle in their season opener before ultimately falling short of the upset, losing 43-36 in Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Georgia Southern comes into this contest 0-3 and while they faced some tough competition themselves, their loss to FCS New Hampshire didn't inspire much confidence in this program moving forward. Georgia Southern ranks last in the conference, averaging just 12 points per game this season. Their rushing offense, which has been the staple of this program since being introduced to the FBS level is averaging only 181.6 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per attempt. Their passing attack also needs some serious work as QB Shai Werts is completing less than 50% of his passes for just 230 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. Coming into this matchup the Eagles have produced just 1 play of more than 30 yards this season.
Georgia Sothern’s defense has also been lacking this season as well. They rank 11th in the conference, surrendering 259.3 yards on the ground per contest and 8th in pass efficiency defense, having already surrendered 6 scores through the air this season, despite teams not needing to throw the ball to move the chains. This is a team that is still trying to figure things out on both sides of the ball and we don't believe that will happen tonight against a team who has owned the conference for as long as the Red Wolves have.
Arkansas State's Justice Hansen is slated to start tonight which gives the Red Wolves a decisive advantage at QB. Hansen has been on fire through Arkansas State’s first three games, throwing for 985 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Arkansas State also has a deep group of options at their disposal on the outside. Christian Booker and Omar Bayless each have 14 receptions already this season, with tight end Blake Mack catching three touchdowns and 13 passes so far this year. Arkansas transfer Kendrick Edwards (15), Justin McInnis (seven), Chris Murray (13) and steady senior Dijon Paschal (seven) round out the key weapons in the passing game. If Hansen is at full strength, this will be a tough offense for Georgia Southern to contain, especially since the Eagles have struggled to generate a pass rush, combining for just 5 sacks in their first three contests.
Arkansas State have huge advantages at the skill positions in this contest and having had a rough non-conference slate, we expect them to come into this contest and flex their conference muscle against a team that is still trying to figure out their identity. While we will likely see an improvement from the Eagles in this contest, we don't believe they will have the offense to keep up with the Red Wolves on the scoreboard. This one really shouldn't be close and unless Georgia Southern finds a way to get a late score in garbage time to narrow the gap, Arkansas State should easily win this one by double-digits and cover the spread.
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