I broke this game down pretty extensively below, so let’s just use this as our game thread for tonight, shall we? Who ya’ got and why?
Ladies and gentlemen, a new season is upon us, and with it, last year’s outstanding slate has been wiped clean and we begin anew.
Just three of five Power conferences will be competing this season, as will just three of five Midmajors. Alas for our wallets, two of the steadier returns are shut down — the Pac 12 and Mountain are very reliable. Worse, the Big 10 doesn’t know what it’s doing. I think Kevin Warren has told so many lies he doesn’t even know anymore. But that hurts us because betting against the bottom of that league is like....well, giving away money.
Who knows how this is going to work out with so many players potentially absent each week, and with so many distractions and the like? But, we’ll do this as we do with the other phases of our life: we’ll wing it. After all, football coaches may get a mulligan in 2020 because of COVID, but your gal is still gonna’ want those Cheddar Bay Biscuits, ‘Rona or no ‘Rona.
With no further preamble, here is the 2020 Midweek Labor Day Kickoff to stick it your man.
Southern Miss -15 vs. South Alabama
Yes, So. Miss did have several opt-outs this season. But, mercy, is this USA Jags team really, really bad. I mean, they lost seven Sun Belt games...in a row.
But are they really?
Last year, USA played several teams closer to the vest than you’d expect from their record and lack of returning starters. That occurred primarily on the strength of their defense. It wasn’t great, but it did hold opponents to 4.0 YPC, and shut down Nebraska on the road. This year, that unit should be even saltier. It’s a solid front seven with really good linebackers, and against the run-first Eagles that will help.
You do wonder where the points will come from though. Trotter has to get better under center. But, just like the defense last season, we saw that when given the opportunity, USA can make plays, nearly scoring several major upsets (including against the aforementioned Cornhuskers.) As much as anyone can said to be interested in a Sun Beast team, this one is a bit intriguing.
Like the Jags, the Golden Eagles also will rely on their defense. But these are not the high-flying groups that Larry Fedora produced, rather Jay Hopson plays ole’ school USM football — pounding the rock, solid special teams, lean on the defense. (But, it’s also Baylor’s offense, so it goes ground-first with tempo.) Their running backs are very good... difference-makers, in fact. It’s also a deep unit. But, the reason I like them S/U here is not only the talent, but that USM has the superior special teams (USA’s bugaboo all last season).
I don’t think the Jags will win this one, or even seriously threaten. But I do think they keep it a bit closer and you won’t see a typical midweek shootout. That means the under is really in play. I do enjoy these Sun Belt / C-USA cross-conference games (even though the SBC has a distinct talent advantage, if not literacy). But, when they bad, they’re really really bad. I don’t think this will be a bad game, and weather won’t be a factor — clear skies and hot as hell at kick off.
It’ll be defense-first between these two frenemy conferences. Take the Jags and the points; something like 27-13 USM.