The college football season was originally to kickoff in Dublin, Ireland with a Week 0 game between Notre Dame and Navy. But with all the schedule upheaval caused by COVID-19 and conference cancellations, the first FBS game of the 2020 season will feature Southern Mississippi against South Alabama. The contest in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Thursday, September 3 will kick off at 9:00 p.m. ET and be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
This will be the first ever meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Jaguars. The contest at M.M. Roberts Stadium is expected to allow 25% capacity, or around 9,000 fans.
South Alabama Outlook: New Look Offense
The Jaguars struggled in 2019 going 2-10 with a 1-7 Sun Belt record in head coach Steve Campbell’s second season. They finished 122nd out of 130 FBS teams with just 18.4 points per game while allowing 30.7 points per game on defense. The offense threw for just 158 yards per game while running for 171 per contest.
The Jaguars have a quarterback battle in fall camp as sophomore Desmond Trotter competes with junior-college transfer Chance Lovertich after senior Tylan Morton opted out of the 2020 season. Trotter started four games last season completing 58% of his passes and throwing eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. Lovertich led Mississippi Gulf Coast CC to the NJCAA title last year and both signal callers could see action in the opener.
The Jaguars need to replace Tra Minter who ran for 1,057 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. Sophomore Carlos Davis ran for 269 yards last year while Trotter added 197 in his four games as QB. The top three WR’s are back this year with Kawaan Baker, Jalen Tolbert and Cade Sutherland totaling 72 catches last year for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns.
On defense LB’s Nick Mobley, Riley Cole and AJ DeShazor are among the top returners. Mobley led the team with 91 tackles last year while DeShazor had 61 tackles, one interception and two fumble recoveries and Cole tallied three sacks among 59 tackles. On the line they need to replace graduated seniors Jeffrey Whatley and Rocel McWilliams who combined for 8.5 sacks in 2019.
Southern Miss Outlook: Pass it Around
The Golden Eagles went 7-6 last season under fourth-year coach Jay Hopson with an Armed Forces Bowl loss to Tulane. They averaged 117 yards per game on the ground and 290 through the air with 26.6 points per game. The defense allowed 26.2 points per game and nearly 350 yards per contest.
The Golden Eagles put three players on the Preseason All-Conference USA team as seniors Jack Abraham, Tim Jones and Ky’el Hemby were honored. Abraham became the third QB in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards last year as he finished with 3,496 with 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Jones is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch list for best WR’s after hauling in 73 passes last year for 902 yards. Hemby, a DB, led the team in tackles last year while also securing two interceptions, one less than returning LB D.Q. Thomas.
The Golden Eagles lost RB/WR De’Michael Harris to the NFL draft but Kevin Perkins ran for 547 yards per game, Trivensky Mosley is back from injury and Frank Gore Jr. joins the team as a freshman. WR Quez Watkins was also drafted after 1178 receiving yards and six scores last year.
South Alabama at Southern Miss Betting Lines By Scoresandstats.com
So. Alabama spread +15
Southern Miss spread -15
Southern Miss has 15 starters back and have added junior college transfers to fill in some gaps. Having a home game to start and with the USA looking for a new quarterback, this game sets up perfectly for the Golden Eagles to get an opening night win on national TV.
Head to our favorite pay per head bookie site at PayPerHead.com and take Southern Miss to win and win easily.
Learn more about Pay Per Head: