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How and what to watch for in South Alabama vs. Southern Miss

Southern Miss comes in as more than a two-touchdown favorite in the first college football game of the season that features two FBS teams.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finally made it, college football fans. Some thought it might never happen, but the 2020 college football season will get underway with a pair of games on Thursday, Sept. 3. The first game involving a pair of two FBS teams will take place between South Alabama and Southern Miss.

One area that may be difficult for teams in this unique college football season is not having a full offseason especially for those who are learning new systems with new coordinators. Unfortunately for Southern Miss, the Eagles are coming into the season with a new coordinator on offense and defense.

Southern Miss has a more than capable starting quarterback with Jack Abraham returning after completing 67.9% of his passes for 3,496 yards in 2019. He will need to cut down on the turnovers with 15 interceptions last year.

Despite a 2-10 record in 2019, South Alabama played better toward the end of last season when quarterback Desmond Trotter took over for the final few games and showed promise with a strong finish as a freshman. In his final four games, he threw for 820 yards with eight touchdowns with two interceptions. He will take over in his first full season as the starting quarterback.

Southern Miss has taken a few hits via the transfer portal in the weeks leading up to kickoff. Arguably its best defensive player defensive end Jacques Turner entered the portal along with middle linebacker Racheem Boothe and safety Shannon Showers. On offense, the Eagles’ speedy wide receiver and return man Jaylond Adams entered the transfer portal, as did potential starting running back Trivenskey Mosley.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

Thursday night’s game will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: South Alabama (+15) vs. Southern Miss

Point Total: O/U 53.5 (-110)

Money line: South Alabama (+480), Southern Miss (-715)

  • South Alabama finished 2-10 straight up last season but 7-5 against the spread.
  • Southern Miss finished 7-6 straight up in 2019 and 6-7 against the spread.
  • Southern Miss hit the under nine times in 13 games last season including its last six matchups.
  • South Alabama finished 8-4 in unders in 2019.

The Best Bet

Replacing two coordinators in a year like 2020 will lead to some issues for many teams, especially early in the season. Southern Miss lost its offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner to Georgia, but an experienced quarterback should make a big difference in this unique season, so the offense might be a push early on. However, Southern Miss may have real troubles on the defensive side of the ball with the players it is losing to the transfer portal recently. Trotter was able to get the South Alabama offense going at the end of last year, so let’s go with the underdog on opening night of the college football season.

Pick: South Alabama +15

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