Date: December 23
Time: 7 PM ET
Location: Hancock Whitney Stadium - Mobile, Alabama
Betting Line: South Alabama -14
South Alabama Jaguars
2023 Record: 6-6
Form: Winners of two of their last five, but lost their final game of the regular season
Key Players: QB Carter Bradley, LB Quentin Wilfawn, WR Jamaal Pritchett
The Story So Far: The argument could be made that South Alabama is one of the most inconsistent clubs in FBS this season. The Jaguars went from dominating a Power Five team (Oklahoma State) to tough conference losses throughout their schedule. However, Kane Wommack’s club were never short on offense. However, two of their better players on that side of the ball are unavailable in La’Damian Webb and Caullin Lacy .
QB Carter Bradley hasn’t played every game this season, however he was one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the Sun Belt this season. Bradley finished the regular season with a 67.8% completion percentage. He’s thrown 61 touchdowns with 21 touchdowns in his college career.
Defensively, South Alabama have faired decently well allowing 21.9 points per game. Linebacker Quentin Wilfawn will be the Jaguars’ leader in their home stadium in their final game of the year. Wilfawn had an impressive 6.5 sacks this season with two forced fumbles, He hit a particularly good stretch in the middle of the season with four games with double-digit tackles.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
2023 Record: 6-6
Form: Winners of their final two, but two of their last five
Key Players: RB Samson Evans, RB Jaylon Jackson, LB Joe Sparacio
The Story So Far: EMU are making their third consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Chris Creighton. They hit a few separate rough patches throughout the year, but put together two strong performances in the final weeks of November to reach bowl eligibility.
The Eagles’ run game has been efficient, with running backs Samson Evans and Jaylon Jackson both averaging over 4.5 yards per carry. Evans in particular is putting the cap on a college career where he basically rewrote the rushing section of the Eastern Michigan record book.
Defensively, linebacker Joe Sparacio leads the way for the Eagles. He’s EMU’s leading tackler this season with 134. The Naples, Florida product has also picked up 2.5 sacks and forced three fumbles.