With their second and final bye week completed, South Alabama (3-2, 2-1 SBC) now has seven consecutive games to end the season, the next five against Sun Belt Conference teams.
After a lackluster showing in their first three games of the season, the Jaguars had put together impressive back-to-back wins over Idaho and Appalachian State to get above .500 both overall and in their conference schedule.
Their next two games are against Georgia State (1-5, 0-3 SBC) and Troy (1-5, 1-1 SBC), who each have one win this season. Georgia State opened the season with a last-second win over Abilene Christian. Troy opened the season with five consecutive losses, including one to Abilene Christian, before coach Larry Blakeney announced his retirement after the season.
Once South Alabama gets past Georgia State and Troy, then we'll really find out how much this team has improved. Three consecutive weekends in November the Jags will face co-defending champions Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State as well as Texas State.
Offense sells tickets, Defense wins Championships?
South Alabama's defense has been playing well all season long, but they have turned it up in the last two games behind an offense with some punch. They rank in the top 3 in many key defensive categories including third in scoring defense (21.4 points per game), third in total defense (374.8 yards per game), and second in pass defense (190.8 yards per game).
Offensively the Jaguars suffered from dropped passes and inopportune penalties stalling drives early in the season which led the losses against Mississippi State and Georgia Southern. They also struggled in season opening win at Kent State. But against Idaho and Appalachian State the offense seems to have found their way and put up big numbers, albeit against teams who are struggling.
After their struggles in the first three games, the Jaguar offense ranks in the lower half of the conference in most key statistical categories with their best statistical showing in rushing offense where they rank sixth in the 11 team conference (173.2 yards per game).
Georgia State ranks last in the conference in most of their defensive categories including scoring defense where they have allowed an average of 41.7 points per game and total yards allowed per game with 481.2 yards per game.
Offensively the Panthers averages 301.8 yards passing per game, which ranks second in the conference. But they only manage 118.3 yards per game on the ground which is 9th in the conference. However, when you only score 27.0 points per game, it's hard to compete against the 41.7 points per game that they allow. Compounding the Panthers season is a -8 turnover margin.
Trent Miles will not get his first conference win this week, I think it will be similar to last season. Jags win 37-17.