Week 8 of the 2022 college football season is here and the action will take us to every corner of the country as we continue marching through the month of October. There’s just a few marquee matchups this week as Clemson meets Syracuse in a battle of ACC unbeatens while UCLA heads up to Oregon for a top 10 showdown out west. Still, where they zig, we zag.
Every week, we’ll go full hipster and point out an under-the-radar game that you should also be paying attention to on the schedule. For this week, we have a Thursday night Sun Belt showdown in Mobile, Alabama.
Troy at South Alabama, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU (Thursday)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: South Alabama -3
Moneyline: South Alabama -165, Troy +140
This week’s low-key matchup of the week brings us to a burgeoning Sun Belt rivalry in the state of Alabama as the South Alabama Jaguars welcome the Troy Trojans to Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, AL, for a Thursday night tussle. This rivalry began in 2012 when USA officially made the jump up to FBS and joined the Sun Belt. In 2015, the two schools added stakes by introducing a championship belt as the trophy, giving the rivalry the name “Battle for the Belt”. That has only revved up the animosity between these two south Alabama programs, adding to the Sun Belt’s emphasis on cultivating regional rivalries in recent years.
This year’s matchup is even more intriguing considering that the two schools currently sit atop the Sun Belt West division standings. South Alabama (5-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) has experienced a swift turnaround under second-year head coach Kane Wommack and is well on its way to its best season since joining FBS a decade ago. Led by quarterback Carter Bradley, the Jaguars have rolled through the first half of its schedule and came up just short of knocking off No. 9 UCLA in the Rose Bowl earlier this year. Meanwhile, Troy (5-2, 3-1 Sun Belt) is also experiencing a turnaround season under first-year head coach Jon Sumrall. You may remember the Trojans losing to Appalachian State on a last-second Hail Mary in Week 3 and since then, they’ve rattled off four consecutive victories heading into Thursday’s showdown.
Viewers of this contest can expect a true defensive showdown as both teams have really study units heading into this game. Troy is currently ranked 26th in defensive SP+ while South Alabama is currently ranked 38th.
If you’re desperately seeking an alternative from another Thursday night clunker the NFL is putting out this week, I’d suggest parking it on ESPNU for two south Alabama teams scrapping it out over a title belt.