It is midweek Conference USA action as Jacksonville State and Middle Tennessee face off. It is time to continue our College Football odds Series with a Jacksonville State-Middle Tennessee prediction, pick, and how-to-watch.
Jacksonville State comes into the game just one win away from hitting the over on their preseason win projections. They just won their fourth game of the year last week, and their second game in conference play. They opened the season with a win over UTEP 17-14. Jacksonville State dominated on defense the first week of the year, holding UTEP to just two scores and winning 17-14. Last week was their second conference win of the year. After being down 21-7 at the half, Jacksonville State would score two touchdowns but miss an extra point to be down one in the fourth quarter. After a Sam Houston touchdown with just 1:11 left in the game, Jacksonville State would drive. They scored with just 13 seconds left and hit the two-point conversion to force overtime. They would score in overtime and take the 35-28 victory.
Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee is looking for its first win over an FBS opponent. After starting the season 0-2 with losses to Alabama and Missouri, they took a win over Murray State. After the win, they would fall to Colorado State before opening conference play. The first test was conference favorite Western Kentucky. Western Kentucky dominated the first half, holding a 23-3 lead going into the half. Ultimately, Western Kentucky would win 31-10.
Here are the college football odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Jacksonville State-Middle Tennessee Odds
Jacksonville State: +3.5 (-110)
Middle Tennessee: -3.5 (-110)
Over: 51.5 (-110)
Under: 51.5 (-110)
How to Watch Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee Week 6
Stream: ESPN App
Time: 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT
*Watch college football LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why Jacksonville State Will Cover The Spread
Logan Smothers has secured the job of starting at quarterback for Jacksonville State and he has not disappointed this year. On the season he is 45-76 passing in four games with 474 yards passing. He has five touchdowns this year and has not thrown an interception. Meanwhile, he has just four turnover-worthy passes. Smothers has also been protected well this year. He has been pressured just 20 times in four games, being sacked four times and scrambling for positive yards three other times.
Smothers has also been good on the ground this year. He has run 49 times this year for 277 yards. Smothers also has five scores this year, but he has fumbled three times. As a team, Jacksonville State has been great on the ground. They have over 200 yards on the ground per game, with 1,197 yards total. Malik Jackson leads the way here with 506 yards this year on just 78 attempts. He is getting great blocking, with over three yards downfield before first contact this year, while forcing 11 missed tackles this year. Jackson has also scored three times this year, while the team has scored 13 on the ground.
Jackson is also a threat to receive the ball. He has 10 receptions this year on 17 targets, coming away with 56 yards. Jacksonville State does not have many major receiving threats, but the receivers have been solid this year. Quinton Lane has brought in 12 of 19 targets this year for 152 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Perry Carter has brought in 10 of 20 targets for 170 yards and a score. He does have three drops though.
On defense, Jacksonville State has been solid at getting pressure on the quarterback. They have 79 pressures with 15 sacks this year. The best at getting to the quarterback this year has been their safety Larry Worth. He has six pressures this year with two sacks and two hits. He has also been solid in coverage with an interception as well. Coverage is where Jacksonville State has been great. They have eight interceptions with no pass breakups and 14 forced interceptions. They have also allowed just four touchdowns through the air.
Why Middle Tennessee Will Cover The Spread
Nicholas Vattiato is the leader of this Middle Tennessee offense. This season he is 129-190 passing for 1,161 yards and seven scores. While he has seven big-time throws according to PFF, he has struggled in a few areas this year. First, he is struggling with pressure. Vattiato has been pressured 51 times on 216 dropbacks, but the issue is he has been sacked 13 times. That means he is getting sacked over 25 percent of the time he is being pressured. Second, he is throwing too many interceptions. He has four interceptions and another eight turnover-worthy passes this year. Vattiato has also run in a touchdown, but he has fumbled three times this year as well.
Vattiato is second on the team in rushing this year, with 212 yards. The leader on the ground this year has been Jaiden Credle. He has run 224 yards this year while getting solid blocking. Credle is averaging 6.2 yards per carry, while only 2.75 are coming after contact this year. Meanwhile, Frank Peasant has run for 171 yards this year and a touchdown.
Vattiato has also had some reliable receivers this year. Elijah Metcalf has brought in 28 of 38 targets this year. That has gone for 243 yards and a touchdown this year. He also has 183 yards after the catch, averaging 6.5 yards after the catch per reception. Holden Willis has brought in 19 of 22 targets this year. That is for 213 yards and a touchdown this year.
Middle Tennessee needs to put some pressure on the quarterback in this game. They do have 82 pressures this year, but just nine sacks. Same Brumfield leads the way with two sacks and 12 pressures this year. Middle Tennessee has also struggled against the pass this year. They have allowed 11 touchdowns through the air this year. Middle Tennessee does have two interceptions this year and another two pass breakups this year. Still, they have allowed 681 yards after the catch this year, over half of the yards they have allowed this year.
Final Jacksonville State-Middle Tennessee Prediction & Pick
Middle Tennessee has struggled this year and is not playing to where they were expected to be. Jacksonville State has also been much better than expected. Jacksonville State has a great running game, and Middle Tennessee has struggled against the run this year. Middle Tennessee is favored in this game, but it will be a close one. Take Jacksonville State to cover in this one.
Final Jacksonville State-Middle Tennessee Prediction & Pick: Jacksonville State +3.5 (-110)