Troy Trojans (2-2), -3.5 @ Florida Atlantic Owls (1-4), +3.5, Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 8 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
By Oracle of Predictem.com
For all of those college football freaks who just can’t get enough of the crazy 2008 season to date, Tuesday is once again a date to mark on your calendar.
That’s because another Sun Belt showdown will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when Florida Atlantic hosts Troy at 8 p.m. Eastern at Lockhart Stadium.
Florida Atlantic’s lifeline is barely showing up on the monitor, as last week’s heartbreaking defeat on a Hail Mary pass against Middle Tennessee St. has them at 1-4 on the year and 0-1 in the Sun Belt. Tuesday’s game against one of the conference favorites, Troy, will determine whether or not FAU’s heart can start beating at a consistent pace.
So far, the Owls are dogs at home +3.5 according to most online sportsbooks. Florida Atlantic covered its only game at home this year and is 3-2 overall ATS.
Meanwhile, Troy coasted through the first two weeks of the season before bowing out against 12th-ranked Ohio State and 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State, in what appears to be a non-conference schedule strictly put together for none other than the Almighty Dollar. By the way, they also play LSU later in the year.
Troy is 2-1 ATS on the year, as their lone home game against Alcorn State a 65-0 trouncing had no line.
Technically, these two teams tied for the Sun Belt championship with a 6-1 record a year ago, but the Owls got the best of the Trojans on the last weekend of the regular season in a 38-32 win.
In that game, FAU quarterback Rusty Smith had a career day, throwing for 291 yards and two scores. But since then, Smith has struggled. He’s completing just over 48% of his passes this season and has thrown seven interceptions compared to just four touchdowns
The Owls’ struggles have been pretty surprising to many, only because they have the majority of their starters at the skill positions back this year after a nice 8-5 season in 2007, including its first bowl game win as a program in its short-lived seven-year existence.
And if you remember, it was head coach Howard Schnellenberger’s Gatorade-dump reaction that captivated the sports world after that bowl win against Memphis….
Anyway, Troy is looking for revenge from last year, and at the same time, move ahead of Arkansas State early on in the conference season.
The Trojans haven’t played in 10 days and are probably looking forward to playing a team not ranked in the Top 25.
One of the reasons Troy is a tough squad for opponents to prepare for is because of its balance. Jamie Hampton is strong under center, throwing for 930 yards and nine touchdowns in just four games.
Meanwhile, the Trojans have three running backs that have run for over 100 yards, led by Dre Harris (189 yards). Also, Jerrel Jernigan (28 catches, 261 yards, 3 TD’s) and Kennard Burton (22 catches, 218 yards) lead the wide receiver corps.
Both teams have some wicked trends ATS for bettors.
The Trojans are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 Sun Belt games. They aren’t bad covering on the road either, going 4-1 in their last five traveling games.
The Owls are nearly mirrors images of Troy, also with an 8-2 record ATS in their last 10 Sun Belt games. Something has to give in this one. FAU is also 6-1 ATS after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game (14-13 loss against MTSU).
The key match up to watch in this one is FAU quarterback Rusty Smith against the pass defense of Troy. The Trojans are 17th in the nation giving up just 160 yards through the air per game. If Smith continues to struggle, look for Troy to have a day.
Oracle’s Pick: A bettor knows to pick with his head and not his heart, therefore, although on the road in a hostile environment, you need to go with Troy. FAU is in heartbreak city mode right now, and the Trojans have had a week off and are salivating at the mouth. Take the Trojans minus the points!