Troy Trojans(9-2SU,4-7ATS) vs.Arkansas State Red Wolves(7-3SU,7-3ATS)
College Football Week14
Date/Time:Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:30PM EST
Where:Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Arkansas
Point Spread:TROY +1.5/ARST -1.5
The Troy Trojans take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Centennial Stadium on Saturday in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. This is Arkansas States home stadium, a venue where they have yet to taste defeat this season. After a 1-2 start to the season, the Red Wolves have closed the season by winning 6 of their last 7, including a 67-50 win over Louisiana-Monroe in their last game. Troy, meanwhile, has won 5 straight and 9 of their last ten, including a 62-9 win over Texas State in their last game. These teams last met in November of last season, with the Red Wolves scoring a 35-3 win. How much that matters now is iffy.
Both teams last lost to South Alabama, which is a strange coincidence, with USA only a 4-win team this season. For Troy, it came after a win over LSU, their best win of the season. Troy is a well-rounded team, applying balance on both sides of the ball. Still, with 104 combined points in their last two games, they have seen the offense start to perk up and at just the right time. They have not allowed more than 24 points the entire season, quite a feat in this conference with some of the teams theyve played.
An improving Troy offense has started to come around. Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers has put together some really nice games lately. He has also run in four touchdowns this season. His main aerial weapons are Deondre Douglas, Damion Willis, Emanuel Thompson, and Tevaris McCormick. On the ground, they are led by Jordan Chunn, along with contributors Josh Anderson and Jamarius Henderson (questionable). The trio of backs have combined for 18 rushing touchdowns.
With a lot of teams in shootouts in this conference, Troy has shown what a good defense can do in this realm. No team has really been able to exploit the Troy defense, as it even translated at a high-enough level to keep the LSU offense subdued. They have been pretty good against the pass, but really good against the run, which has taken them a long way this season. And with 26 combined points allowed in their last two games, they come into this game on a roll. Arkansas State will need to show they can do better against a defense that has been respectable in all their games this season. Safeties Kris Weatherspoon and Cedarius Rookard have been very good, while corner Blace Brown has four picks on the season, one that he took back to the house. Sam Lebbie and Tron Folson have been very active on this defense, making a ton of plays. They can rush the passer and create turnovers and look for a big dose of that on Saturday.
Arkansas State is more of a high-flying type of team. They can create more offensive fireworks, with the flip-side of that being a defense that hasnt always been stout, as giving up 50 in their last game to a sub-.500 Louisiana-Monroe team will attest. But they can pile on the points, particularly with an aerial game that is tops in the conference, with enough of a ground-game to keep opposing defenses guessing. They also work with a vast cabaret approach, with a lot of different guys contributing on offense for the Red Wolves this season.
The Arkansas State offense is led by a good quarterback in junior Justice Hansen. He has thrown for nearly 3200 yards on 64% completions, along with 32 touchdowns through the air. He has also run in five touchdowns on the season. On the ground, they are led by Warren Hand, along with nice contributions along the way by Johnston White. Aerially, 7 different guys have at least 20 catches, led by Justin McInnis, Chris Murray, Blake Mack, Omar Bayless, and Kendrick Edwards. There are a lot of different ways this group can get you, contributing to their consistency over the last few months.
With a more-explosive offense usually comes a less-dependable D and Arkansas States isnt quite as bankable as what will be seen on the opposite sideline this week. Still, up until they gave up 50 points last week, they had been playing well, having given up just 77 combined points in their previous five games. So its not as if they are without hope. Some injuries have been costly and it would have been nice to see them peaking into this spot. Still, they get some big playmaking from guys like DE JaVon Rolland-Jones, who has 12 sacks on the season. He gets help up front from ends Ronheen Bingham and Caleb Caston, who can also get after quarterbacks.
This has the looks of a competitive game, with the Red Wolves catching a break with this one being in their home-venue. Troy has the air of a more reliable level of competence that can be depended on to a greater degree. Arkansas State, meanwhile, has a more explosive potential and at home, they could prove to be very dangerous. In a game where there isnt a lot to separate the two teams, Im going to go with the team with the greater firepower at home. Im taking Arkansas State.
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