Ohio (8-5) vs Troy (9-3)
When: Friday, December 23rd 2016
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Two teams coming off tough season-ending losses will meet in the Dollar General Bowl as the Ohio Bobcats take on the Troy Trojans in Mobile, Alabama. Ohio, who won the MAC East Division, gave undefeated Western Michigan all they could handle in the MAC Championship Game before falling 29-23 in Detroit. This is the eighth straight season of bowl eligibility for Ohio under coach Frank Solich, who also guided the Bobcats to Mobile in 2007. Ohio can reach nine wins for the first time since 2012 – the last time Ohio won a bowl game. The Bobcats are just 2-7 overall in bowl games. Since allowing 56 points to Texas State in triple overtime in the season opener, the Bobcats have held every opponent to fewer than 30 points, with MAC Defensive Player of the Year Tarell Basham leading the way. The senior defensive lineman led the conference with 11.5 sacks and is the school’s career leader with 29.5. Senior linebacker Blair Brown had a conference-high 116 tackles (13.5 for loss), and MAC Freshman of the Year Javon Hagan had 50 tackles and led the team with five forced fumbles and three interceptions. The Bobcats rank 77th in total offense and 79th in scoring at 26.5 points a game.
Troy also just missed out on their conference title, losing to Georgia Southern 28-24 in the season finale. Troy led the Sun Belt in scoring, passing and total offense with 49 touchdowns and 5,263 total yards. The Trojans are 2-3 in bowl games and are making their first bowl appearance since 2010 – when they beat the Bobcats 48-21 in the New Orleans Bowl. Troy nearly had one of the biggest upsets of the season when they took Clemson to the wire before falling 30-24 on September 10th. The Trojans started the season off 8-1 and became the first Sun Belt team to be ranked in the Top 25, but lost two of their final three games and missed out on their sixth conference title. Despite the slide, it still was a season of major strides for Troy, which improved by five wins in coach Neal Brown’s second season – tied for the fifth-best turnaround in the nation. Junior running back Jordan Chunn led the way with 1,232 rushing yards and a conference-best 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 70.5% of his passes for 2,951 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.
Troy might have stumbled down the stretch, but overall, I think they have a better team that Ohio and the point spread is low enough for me to be confident in a win and cover.
Pick: Troy -4