Start Time: 6:00 PM CST
Weather: Rainy with a chance of biblical flooding
Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, Texas
TV: ESPN3, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (Austin-San Antonio corridor)
Records: TXST 1-4 (0-1), South Alabama 3-3 (1-1)
Live Stats: Here
Line: TXST -1.5, O/U 64.5
Seriously y'all, at least try to explain what the Sword of Omens is to the 75% of us (at best) who don't read CFB Reddit next time.
South Alabama Outlook
There's one word that comes to mind when I think about this matchup: DRAMA.
In the last two years, the outcome has been decided in the final seconds of the game and if history is any indication of how this game will go we could be in for an interesting ballgame. Although I don't believe it will be this year.
This contest is a pivotal one for the Jaguars. a 4-3 record heading into the last stretch of their tough SBC schedule would put them at an advantage. But, there are a few things we need the Jags to do in order to gain that fourth win.
Cameron Blankenship, South's arguably best linemen on offense, is out for the next three weeks due to a knee injury against Arkansas State. The offensive line has already been struggling throughout the season and doesn't help the fact that Cody Clements has thrown 9 interceptions thus far this year. If the Bobcat defense takes advantage of this weakness, it could be bad news for the Jags who really rely on big, explosive plays to get the offense going.
The Jag offense has to get hot fast, put up points early and keep the defense off the field for as long as possible. The Bobcat defense is one of the worst defenses in the league right now. South has to drive down the field and finish the job. The run game hasn't been what it should be in the last few games, but this might be the time to let Xavier Johnson eat up some yardage as he comes back from his late game foot injury last week.
Defense, I am not too worried about if they come out as they have after losses. Even with the loss of Akeem Lewis for the week after a questionable targeting call against Arkansas State, the Jags have been able to contain the run game against their Sun Belt opponents thus far and our secondary coverage has become of the defense's strengths.
Texas State has yet to have an interception thus far in the season. If South Alabama can take care of the ball, keep pressure off of Clements, be explosive in the air, get the run game going and defense is on their game ... this should be a South Alabama W.
Texas State Outlook
By now you know that Texas State's completely helpless defense stiffened up somewhat to hold Louisiana Lafayette to 14 points in the first half a couple of weeks ago. Interim DC Brad Franchione simplified the defensive schemes somewhat, and they almost looked downright competent despite tons of injuries to the defensive line. That is, at least, until the second half happened.
A few depth chart changes such as bringing Easy Anyama up to the line to provide pressure and demoting Brandon McDowell for Clarence Guidry could bring some welcome changes to a defense that needs some re-tooling. Then again, it could just be throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, which we've certainly seen enough of this season already. If they can get pressure on Cody Clemens and finally force their first interception of the season (really!), this could be the jolt Texas State needs.
Speaking of needing a jolt, the Bobcat offense needs to find a way to generate some offense other than Tyler Jones scrambling up and down the field. He's still the team's leading rusher, and at some point, he risks getting hurt. Opposing defenses have learned to key on stopping him and playing up close to the line to stop the quick screens. The Bobcats have lost Chris Nutall's explosive playmaking ability for the season, so Rob Lowe's gonna need to get more carries to take the pressure off of Jones.
Few teams are going to respect Texas State's downfield throwing ability at this point, as Jones and his receivers haven't shown the ability to connect on long routes against FBS competition. At this point, carving up USA with a few mid-range routes over the middle may be the best hope to keep the Jaguar defense from completely teeing over on Jones. But will Dennis Franchione change up the offensive playbook at all?
Advanced stats say that Texas State should have a 58% chance to win this, but the stat that sticks out to me the most is defensive efficiency. South Alabama is 58th in the country in defensive efficiency, meaning that they should be able to get a few stops on Texas State's shallow, screen-heavy offense attack, which is 13th in explosiveness but only 89th in efficiency.
Texas State, meanwhile, is ranked 128th in defensive efficiency, good for last in the country. Not exactly confidence inducing, even if South Alabama only has the 97th most efficient offense in FBS.
I don't see this being a high scoring contest. But, I'm also hoping hat history does not repeat itself. Both teams have a lot to fight for, but I think South Alabama's defense will be the key in this matchup. Hopefully the offense will put up some points early and not them down.
South Alabama 28, Texas State 21
Ever since the Southern Miss game, the Texas State offense has gone off the rails, and the defense is what it is. Until they face an opponent with a completely incompetent defense, I simply don't have faith in the 'Cats to win a shootout with an FBS team. Given their ability to slow down teams like SDSU and Troy's horizontal offense, I wouldn't classify USA's defense as completely incompetent just yet.
This should hopefully still be a heart attack of a game, though. Ben Ijah for President.
South Alabama 42, Texas State 38