2023 68 Ventures Bowl – South Alabama vs Eastern Michigan

2023 68 Ventures Bowl – South Alabama vs Eastern Michigan

posted December 13

The Game

The holiday tradition is so thick you have to wipe it away from your face. Yes, folks, it’s the 68 Ventures Bowl, Brought to you by the good folks at 68 Ventures. Ventures, done the 68 way.

South Alabama had a disappointing season any way you cut it (6-6) as they were preseason favorites (along with Troy) to take down the Sun Belt West division. Sadly, they were very inconsistent and even tho they managed to beat mighty Oklahoma St on the road, they also found a way to lose to Central Michigan (!) and Louisiana at home. Eastern Michigan is the “Iowa” of the Group of Five conferences, without the good defense. The Eagles slithered into bowl season once again (6-6) as they’ve very scrappy and well-coached. Do they have any shot to SHOCK the WORLD?

The Details

South Alabama -16.5 Eastern Michigan (46.5)

MEGALOCKS LINE – South Alabama -17

“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: South Alabama 31.5 Eastern Michigan 15

South Alabama offense vs Eastern Michigan defense

The Jags had a decent offense during the regular season (#61 FBS rushing, #34 passing) but they’ll be without their two biggest stars in RB La’Damian Webb (1,007, 16 TD) and WR Caullin Lacy (93, 1,316, 7 TD). QB Carter Bradley has been ok (19-7 TD to INT, 68%, 8.2 YPA) but not at the level he played at in 2022, and note that he’s got the mobility of a AIRPLANE HANGAR so Eastern Michigan will know where to find him. If QB Desmond Trotter ends up getting the start we’d be fine with that as he’s got a lot of experience and looked good in the season finale vs Texas St (4 TD passes). There are still some talented skill position players on the roster but it stings BIGLY to lose your two biggest stars on this side of the football. The Eagles have been mediocre on defense (#69 total defense, #109 run D, #38 pass efficiency D) and their schedule was filled with patsies that would make LEE HARVEY OSWALD blush. The Eagles will be without some key players on defense including #2 tackler Chase Kline (129) (opt-out) and leading sacker Mikah Coleman (4) (portal) so that’s not good. Toledo and Western Michigan both got well into the 40s against this team and we give a watered-down Jags offense a good shot of getting into the 30s in this game.

Eastern Michigan offense vs South Alabama defense

The Eagles have had a heck of a time doing much of anything on offense (#128 total offense, 272 YPG) whether it be on the ground (#110) or thru the air (#121). They’ll rely on their 1-2 punch at RB in Samson Evans (635, 12 TD) and Jaylon Jackson to move the chains on the ground and hope that they can complete a pass once in a while to keep the defense guessing. Starting QB Austin Smith has hit the transfer portal but he was pretty bad this season (9-7 TD to INT, 57%, 6.0 YPA) and it didn’t help that his weaponry at WR/TE is nothing special. Backup QB Ike Udengwu is the likely starter and he’s basically a RB that might try and throw some passes (13-28, 100Y, 0-2 TD to INT, 3.6 YPA). Maybe we see youngster Cam’Ron McCoy at QB? He’s thrown one pass this season. The Jags defense was down a slight notch this year but they’re good against the run (#26) and whilst they’ve been weak vs the pass (#83 pass efficiency D) they won’t have to worry about the THROW GAME in this contest. The Jags completely shut down other teams with horrible offenses this season and allowed just 7 vs ULM, 3 vs Southern Miss, and they blanked the Thundering Herd (W 28-0).

Trends, Intangibles and More!

This game is played in the HOME STADIUM of the Jaguars so that’s gotta be some kind of an edge for the Sun Belt team…..This bowl game has been previously known by many other names….The Mobile Alabama Bowl, The GMAC Bowl, The GoDaddy Bowl, The Dollar General Bowl, and the LendingTree Bowl…..We probably missed a name or two but that gives you an idea of the historical LINEAGE……Eastern Michigan has the edge in special teams as they boast the #12 (!) unit in the nation whilst South Alabama features the #39 group according to the masterful Phil Steele…….The Jags have NEVER won a bowl game (0-3) and they mailed it in last year vs Western Kentucky in the New Orleans Bowl (L 44-23)…..They should be motivated for this BAD BOY…..Eastern Michigan HC Chris Creighton finally won a bowl game LY (1-4 career) when the Eagles upset San Jose St in the Idaho Potato Bowl (W 41-27)…..Chris Creighton is one of the best head coaches in history in terms of covering the spread as a road dog…..this is a “neutral site” game….but in case you’re interested….he’s 33-15-1 in the point spread role of road puppy (69%)……Eastern Michigan’s six wins came against a collection of STIFFS…..Howard, UMass, Ball St, Kent St, Akron, Buffalo.


We definitely prefer the South Alabama side in this one. Not sure if we’ll roll with the spread or the Jags team total ‘over’. We’ll think it over briefly and post something in here shortly.


Decision pending – see above


‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.