Troy Trojans (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Georgia Southern Eagles (4-7 SU, 2-9 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 12PM EST
Where: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Georgia
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TROY -7/GASO +7
Over/Under Total: 54.5
In Sun Belt Conference action on Saturday, the Troy Trojans come to Statesboro to face the Georgia Southern Eagles. Troy has a chance to earn a share of the conference title, which would be a huge accomplishment for a team that won 4 games last season. To do so, they will have to beat a Georgia Southern team that is on the opposite trajectory at 4-7, following a 9-win season in 2015. Can Troy win their tenth game of the season or will Georgia Southern find the wherewithal to finish the season on a strong note?
Georgia Southern is only in their third full season in the FBS and after some nice initial success, they hit hard times in 2016. They enter this contest on the heels of 4 straight defeats and losses in 7 of their last 8 games after a 3-0 start. They have a diverse running attack, but are half-dead through the air. The defense has been so-so at best and there is no continuity at quarterback. Some of their losses were close and their narrow overall point-differential suggests a team that is maybe .500 or a little below it. Any way you want to cut it, things really soured over the course of the season for the Eagles.
A handful of different guys have taken snaps for the Eagles at QB this season, with it looking like Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellison will see the majority of snaps, with Seth Shuman having also seen time behind center this season. Cumulatively, the aerial game has accounted for 11 touchdowns and 9 picks. They have a run-game comprised of five different players with at least 300 yards on the ground, including Upshaw and Ellison, along with Matt Breida, Wesley Fields, and LA Ramsby. Those three backs have combined for 14 touchdowns. The aerial attack of BJ Johnson, Myles Campbell, and Montay Crockett have been pretty much an afterthought, with the Eagles relying on the rush option. The GASO offense has managed a modest 26.5 points a game this season.
The Eagles’ defense has given up just a little over what they’ve scored, though it’s not a group that has gotten better over the course of the season. They’ve secured 19 turnovers on the season. But only two teams in the entire FBS have registered less sacks on the season than Georgia Southern with just ten. The number of points they are yielding has climbed some in recent games and they’re a big part of how a 3-0 team can end up being 4-7. In Troy, they’re facing a winning team that has won eight of 9 games and has shown the ability to put up points.
Troy has really been something, all exceptfor a late-season bump in the road. They lost their second game of the season, a 30-24 defeat to a Clemson team that might be heading to the CFP. They kept winning until two weeks ago, a 35-3 loss to Arkansas State where they were ten point favorites. They have won some narrow ones this season, but we’re talking about a team favored to win their tenth game of the season after a pretty rough patch so that’s not too bad. They’ve only covered two of their last six spreads, but they’re winning.
The Troy Trojans are led on offense by third-year starting quarterback Brandon Silvers. He threw for 2733 yards and had 20 TD throws this season, while running in four scores. Running back Jordan Chunn has been big with a workhorse 1153 yards and 11 touchdowns. Silvers has some different options aerially with Deondre Douglas, Emanuel Thompson, Tevaris McCormick, and John Johnson. Chunn has also been useful in this area. The loss to Arkansas State notwithstanding, this has been a consistently-delivering offense that has been very bankable, if not altogether prolific.
The Troy defense has been good for the most part and plays in rhythm with the offense, usually giving the other side of the ball room to breathe. They have allowed a little over 21 points a game, while showing a knack of slowing down the opposing run-game. The pass-rush has been decent with end Rashad Dillard getting after the QB. They can give up yards and aren’t that ironclad, but since losing to Clemson narrowly, they have allowed over 24 points just once. The secondary, while leaky, can also make plays, led by corner Blace Brown and his 6 picks. As a team, they have 18 on the season.
Troy has more on the table with a share of the conference title at stake. It took a lot of grit for them to engineer this turnaround as coach Neal Brown has gotten things headed the right way. The spread almost seems pretty easy to negotiate for Troy at 7 points. They’re cruising along with 8 wins in 9 games, while Georgia Southern has experienced a prolonged coming-down-to earth phase this season. Still there is something about Georgia Southern’s ability to hang in there even when the chips are down, combined with Troy’s tendency to turn games into grinding affairs that makes me think this won’t be the easy task that some think it is. I’m taking the points.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Georgia Southern Eagles plus 7 points.
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