After answering the bell for one Sun Belt test, the Troy Trojans have another one. This time, they’ll do it as the conference’s first team to ever make it into the top 25 in either national poll. Arkansas State went 0-for during its non-conference schedule, but the Red Wolves have been perfect in Sun Belt play. Last week’s Appalachian State vs. Troy game lived up to the beloved Fun Belt moniker. Will this game do the same?
Arkansas State vs. Troy College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday November 17, 9:30 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Troy -8
The Troy Trojans are going to a bowl game for the first time since 2010 and they have already doubled last season’s win total, but that’s not enough for Neal Brown’s team. They can take a big step towards winning the Sun Belt Conference for the first time since 2010 and have a shot at their first outright title since 2009. Troy is 8-1 straight up, but just 5-4 against the spread. The Sun Belt Conference title goes through Arkansas State, as the Red Wolves have won four of the last five, including last season’s. Since losing at home to Central Arkansas on September 24, the Red Wolves are 5-0 straight up and against the spread. They’ve more than doubled up their opponents in conference play by outscoring them 33.4 to 16.2.
Arkansas State Red Wolves:
Three straight lopsided wins have put the Red Wolves on track to do some damage in the Sun Belt Conference title race, but they really step up in class this week. Arkansas State outscored Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia State, and New Mexico State 123-38 over the last three games, but those three teams are a combined 8-21. Troy has eight wins on its own. Justice Hansen has played well in conference and he’s up to 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He’s completed 58.5 percent of his passes. Warren Wand and Johnston White are the guys to watch on this offense. Wand has 4.5 yards per carry and White has 4.9 yards per carry. This is just Arkansas State’s second road game since September 16, so they have benefitted from a soft schedule.
The defense has shut it down against some really bad offensive teams. Arkansas State has allowed five first half points per conference game and has limited the opposition to 4.8 yards per play. The Red Wolves have avoided Appalachian State and Idaho in that stretch and have missed Troy up until now, so those numbers may be a little bit misleading. That being said, teams can only play what’s on the schedule and Arkansas State has gotten a chance to get on track. The Red Wolves have only permitted a 53.2 percent completion percentage overall this season.
This Troy offense has been extremely efficient this season. Troy has managed 6.1 yards per play on the year with nearly 475 yards of offense per game. Neal Brown’s team has rushed for five yards per carry and has completed 64.5 percent of its passes. The former Kentucky offensive coordinator has to be thrilled with the play of Brandon Silvers, who has a 19/7 TD/INT ratio on the year. Jordan Chunn is a 1,000-yard rusher after taking a medical redshirt last season. Silvers has only been sacked three times this season, so the Troy offensive line is doing some incredible work. No other team has allowed fewer than seven sacks. Troy has also successfully pushed the tempo with 77 offensive plays per game.
Defensively, Troy has improved by over a touchdown from a points per game standpoint this year. They have only allowed 5.1 yards per play, which is a slight upgrade from last season, but a massive upgrade from previous seasons. Troy’s defense has held the opposition to just 3.2 yards per carry and a 52.6 percent completion percentage. Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has had some much bigger jobs in the past, including North Carolina, Clemson, and Illinois. He’s done a phenomenal job coaching up this group and he’s been a big key to this team’s success.
College Football Free Pick: Troy -8
The Trojans get to stay home on a short week and it seems like they got back to business right away after beating Appalachian State. This could have been a letdown spot against a different team, but Arkansas State has been the class of this conference this decade, so there’s no reason for the Trojans to rest on their laurels. Arkansas State hasn’t played many road games and they’re walking into a blackout at Veterans Memorial Stadium, which should mean a strong crowd and a good home field advantage.
Kyle Hunter went 7-2 last Saturday in college football and is 61-26 (70%) in his last 87 totals selections. Grab ALL of his college football and NFL totals for just $300 for the rest of the season. Want college hoops? Get all NCAA BB totals for the season for $400. Contact Kyle- Email kyle@huntersportspicks.