Troy Trojans (2-4 SU, 1-5 ATS) at Florida International Golden Panthers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS), Tuesday October 25th, 2011. 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 9
FIU Stadium Miami, Fla.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Troy +5/FIU -5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The Florida International Golden Panthers take the Tuesday night stage for the 2nd week in a row when they host the Troy Trojans this Tuesday night. The Panthers suffered a disappointing 36-14 loss last week to Arkansas State in a game that could have catapulted the defending Sun Belt Conference Champions back into the hunt for the 2011 conference crown. Instead, the Panthers dropped to 1-2 in conference play and could be out of the Sun Belt Championship picture. Still, Florida International looks to redeem their selves on the national stage when they host Troy at home this Tuesday night.
The Trojans also sit at 1-2 in Sun Belt Conference play this season, but they have had a disappointing season overall with a 2-4 record through their first 6 games. Over the last 5 years, Troy has not won less than 8 games in a single season but that streak is in serious jeopardy. Coach Larry Blakeney has spent many years to turn the Trojans into a respectable program and has succeeded in doing so. However, this season the Trojans have failed to meet expectations and are in desperate need to turn their season around. Perhaps a nationally televised game on Tuesday night is just what the Trojans need to spark the team as they embark on the 2nd half of the season.
The big problem that has held the Trojans back this season has been the play of the defense. Troy ranks a miserable 113th in total defense giving up 460 yards per game. The Troy secondary has been scorched for 287 yards per game as well which also ranks 113th in the nation against the pass. The Trojans offense has not exactly been dynamic, but have been rather average. Therefore, the offense has not been able to overcome the points given up by the defense and that has been the story all season long. This week the focus will be on that Trojan defense and their ability to stop the Florida International passing attack led by WR. T.Y Hilton.
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Hilton currently leads the Sun Belt in receiving with 43 catches for 738 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. Hilton was the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and is averaging just less than 20 yards per catch again this season. Considering how bad the Troy defense has played this season, it will be interesting to see if Hilton can come up with a big Tuesday night performance. The guy responsible for getting Hilton the ball will be senior QB Wesley Carroll. Carroll has been solid completing 63% passing for 1,455 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 picks on the year. Carroll should have the opportunity to make some big throws against the Troy defense so if he plays well the Panthers should be tough to beat.
For the Trojans offense, sophomore QB Corey Robinson leads a Troy passing attack that ranks 16th overall averaging 298 yards per game through the air. The Trojans run an up tempo offense that spreads the ball around very well. In fact, Robinson has attempted more passes (271) than any other quarterback in the conference. So far Robinson has been solid completing 61.3% passing for 1,779 yards with 9 scores and 7 picks on the year. The problem with Robinson has been the growing pains surrounding the turnovers. Robinson has thrown 1 interception in nearly every game this year and threw 2 picks in the 38-10 loss to Louisiana-Monroe last week.
There is not any doubt that the Trojan offense will move the ball with Robinson and WR Eric Thomas who leads the team with 35 catches for 435 yards for 5 scores. However the Troy offense, primarily Robinson, cannot afford to turn the ball over. The Trojans already struggle enough with their weak play of the defense. Therefore, they must capitalize when they are able to move the football by scoring touchdowns. If the Trojans give any free chances to the Panthers offense, it will greatly diminish Troy’s chances of righting the ship on their disappointing 2011 campaign.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Florida International is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games and the Trojans have won 8 of the last 9 against Florida International straight up. I know FIU has played better this season, but it’s likely that history repeats on Tuesday night. Take Troy +5.
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