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South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan: Picks, best bets for 68 Ventures Bowl in Mobile

The Jaguars and Eagles meet in Mobile.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 17 Southern Miss at South Alabama Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The South Alabama Jaguars take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the 68 Ventures Bowl on Saturday, December 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET from Mobile, Alabama.

South Alabama (6-6, 4-4 SBC) ended their season with a 52-44 loss to Texas State after wins over Marshall and Arkansas State in November. The Jaguars’ biggest win of the year was a 33-7 upset over Oklahoma State early in the season. The Jags are losing their top receiver, Caullin Lacy, to the transfer portal. Lacy had over 1,300 receiving yards this season. Running back La’Damian Webb is unable to play with a toe injury, and he led the team in rushing yards with over 1,000 on the year.

Eastern Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC) ended their season with back-to-back wins over Akron and Buffalo. The Eagles were a perfect .500 in their entire season as well as in conference play, with losses coming against Toledo, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois, among others. The Eagles were led on offense by quarterback Austin Smith, who passed for nine touchdowns and seven interceptions, and by running back Samson Evans, who rushed for 12 sores. However, the Eagles’ defense was their strong suit this season.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

South Alabama: 56 overall, 50 offense, 68 defense
Eastern Michigan: 103 overall, 130 offense, 53 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

South Alabama

RB Kentrel Bullock - Probable (undisclosed)
QB Carter Bradley - Questionable (knee)
RB La’Damian Webb - Out (toe)
TE Lincoln Sefcik - Questionable (undisclosed)
WR Caullin Lacy - Out (transfer portal)

Eastern Michigan

OT Zach Conti - Out (transfer portal)
EDGE Mikah Coleman - Out (transfer portal)
QB Austin Smith - Out (transfer portal)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

South Alabama: 4-8 ATS
Eastern Michigan: 6-5-1 ATS

Total in 2023

South Alabama: Over 6-6
Eastern Michigan: Over 5-7

Team Pace

South Alabama: 25.6 seconds per play
Eastern Michigan: 27.3 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: South Alabama -17.5
Total: 44.5
Moneyline: South Alabama -900, Eastern Michigan +600

Weather

57 degrees, cloudy, 7 MPH E

Our Best Bet for the 68 Ventures Bowl

Eastern Michigan +17.5

South Alabama is missing its two biggest offensive weapons in this game, and while Eastern Michigan’s quarterback has entered the portal, he isn’t as much of a factor as Webb and Lacy are for the Jaguars. With a spread this big, I think Eastern Michigan’s defense will keep them in the game long enough to cover the spread.