James Madison vs Troy Odds
Saturday September 16
7 pm Eastern Time
|James Madison Odd|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
James Madison continues its tough September schedule with a road game against the Troy Trojans, the defending Sun Belt Conference champions.
This is another emotional moment for Curt Cignetti’s JMU program, as it didn’t get the chance to challenge Troy for the Sun Belt title last season. The Dukes, of course, were ineligible for the league crown due to the transition rules from NCAA FCS to FBS.
Meanwhile, Jon Sumrall and Troy want to prove their league title was the real deal.
This big collision in the Sun Belt is a college football hipster’s dream, so how should you bet it?
The Dukes graduated from the FBS last season and instantly became one of the best Group of Five teams in the country. The FCS powerhouse took the Sun Belt by storm and finished 8-3.
Both their offense and defense are good for the Group of Five, and their run defense is a strong point. They have lived in the top 10 in Rushing Success Rate defense since entering the FBS last September.
The front is led by guard James Carpenter and a pair of excellent linebackers in Jailin Walker and Taurus Jones. But Walker, along with starting safety Jacob Thomas, left the Virginia game last week with an injury and both are day-to-day.
Despite excelling at stopping the run and limiting offenses to inefficient blitzes, coordinator Bryant Haines’ defense is susceptible to big plays and ranks 95th in allowing explosive plays.
Against a Troy offense that is mediocre in many ways (except creating explosive plays), this could be a problem.
On offense, the Dukes return all five offensive line starters and have an assembly line of talented position players.
This year’s group is led by running back Kaelon Black and senior wide receiver Reggie Brown. Stony Brook transfer running back Ty Son Lawton was a preseason camp favorite and broke out in a big way last week, rushing for 79 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries against Virginia.
The quarterback is Jordan McCloud, a two-time transfer and dual threat. He averages five yards per carry and has thrown for 368 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions (74.1 QBR).
That’s not a stat line-breaking game, but his veteran leadership and consistent play made him the choice to lead Cignetti’s potent, balanced attack.
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While James Madison was sweeping the Sun Belt East division last year, Troy was busy closing out the West division. The Trojans won the league despite an infraction that could be described as “complementary,” and only if one tries to be charitable.
Last season’s offense finished 106th in SP+, but the defense finished seventh.
This season, the offense has improved (82nd) and the defense (55th) is struggling to repeat last year’s performance.
Quarterback Gunnar Watson and running back Kimani Vidal lead the offense. It’s not an efficient offense, ranking 91st in success rate, but Troy makes big plays and ranks 17th in explosives.
Troy’s offense is also susceptible to Havoc and freebies (129th in Havoc Allowed), a poor matchup that could create short fields or directly lead to points against a JMU defense that ranks in the top 30 in FBS in Havoc.
The Trojans’ defense was off last year, and while some talented playmakers return (cornerback Reddy Steward and Richard Jibunor and TJ Jackson on the edge), they lost a ton overall. The Trojans rank 118th on defense in Bill Connelly’s return production metric.
Defensive coordinator Shiel Wood also left for Tulane, and the decline has been notable so far.
While there is still time for things to improve, the first results are discouraging. Small sample sizes abound, but Troy ranks 81st in success rate and 71st in explosive defense. This is not the Trojan defense of 2022.
James Madison vs. Troy
Analysis of confrontations
Change the dropdown menus below to hide or show how James Madison and Troy match up statistically:
James Madison offense vs. Troy defense
|Yards of line||38||30|
Trojan Offensive vs. James Madison Defense
|Yards of line||fifty||12|
Pace of play/Other
|Approach to PFF||99||42|
|SP+ Special Equipment||40||96|
|Seconds per play||26.8 (66)||28.9 (94)|
|Rush rate||57.3% (33)||53.9% (72)|
James Madison vs. Troy
Bet selection and prediction
This total opened at 49.5, but has dropped to 46.5.
I think JMU will be excited about what is essentially their best chance at a “conference championship game” until 2024. I think JMU will score points against Troy’s weak defense and even get some short fields off turnovers.
I think JMU has a quality defense, but it can be exposed through bad tackles and explosive plays.
Meanwhile, Troy’s offensive modus operandi is simply looking for big plays, efficiency be damned. The Trojans won’t put the ball down the field (no one does against the Dukes) but they will get theirs through long pass plays.
I think this game could secretly turn into a shootout; Both defenses are good, but they have flaws and lose reputation.
I like that the market moves away from me and gives me a better number.
I will take the over at 46.5 and play it to the key number of 48.
Choose: Over 46.5 (Play up to 48)
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