Troy’s Defense Is Too Tough For Buffalo In Dollar General Bowl

Thursday, December 13, 2018 11:29 AM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 11:29 AM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Dollar General Bowl between Troy and Buffalo. The game from Mobile, Alabama is on Saturday, December 22 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Dollar General Bowl: Troy (9-3 SU, 7-3-2 ATS) vs Buffalo (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS)Saturday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)Ledd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AlabamaFree NCAAF Pick: Trojans ATSBest Line Offered: Heritage

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Troy will look to make program history by achieving its third straight 10-win season and its 31st win in its last three seasons. Troy played in this bowl in 2016 when it won and covered against Ohio. Its coach Neal Brown is 2-0 SU and ATS in bowls with Troy. Conversely, Buffalo makes its first bowl appearance since 2013, which had also been the year of its last winning season.

How They Got Here

Troy coasted through much of the season and upset rebuilding Nebraska in September. But its offense fell apart at the end. It only survived Texas State 12-7 as 22-point favorites and lost to App State 21-10, costing it a spot in the Sun Belt title game. Besides getting blown out by Ohio, Buffalo dominated most of conference play. It had won every other MAC game until it faced Northern Illinois in the MAC title game where it surrendered a 19-point lead. The 30-29 defeat left a bitter taste in its mouth.

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Why Troy Can Win/Cover

Troy is difficult to score on. It allows 22.5 points per game, which ranks 27th in the country. The impressive aspect about Troy’s success on defense is that it doesn’t get much help from its offense. Troy’s offense ranks 72nd in average time of possession, meaning that Troy relies relatively heavily on its defense. The Trojans are 5-1-1 ATS when the point total is set above 50 points.

The strength of Troy’s defense is its run defense. It ranks 14th in opposing YPC. For example, even though App State dominated time of possession, Troy limited its rush attack to 4.5 YPC, .9 below its season average. Likewise, it limited Louisiana-Lafayette’s 12th-ranked run offense to 2.8 YPC, half its season average.

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Why Buffalo Can Win/Cover

Troy doesn’t do any of the things that Buffalo’s opponents have done who covered against the Bulls. It won’t dominate time of possession with a dominating rush attack like Ohio and Army did. It doesn’t have an experienced quarterback like Ohio or Northern Illinois. Its quarterback won’t shock Buffalo, either, and suddenly start throwing dimes downfield. Troy’s offense is prone to sputtering — its last two games showed that. Troy is 0-3 ATS when it fails to score 20 points.

Despite some disasters against a couple of the MAC’s best offenses, Buffalo’s defense isn’t awful, either. It ranks in the top 60 in opposing passer rating and opposing YPC. Troy could struggle to move the ball consistently and Buffalo will wear Troy’s defense down.

Common Opponents/Series History

Both teams faced a Big 10 school. Buffalo decimated Rutgers 42-13. It produced 445 yards of offense and Rutgers lacked the firepower to keep pace. Troy won as 10-point underdogs at Nebraska under its new head coach. Its defense held Nebraska to 1.4 YPC below its season average in rushing and it scored just enough partly thanks to a special teams touchdown.

The Verdict

Stopping the run is crucial against Buffalo because the Bulls rank 34th in run-play frequency. Its not like the offenses that Troy limited were one-dimensional, either. The respective quarterback of ULL and App State, for instance, are superior to Buffalo’s quarterback Tyree Jackson in terms of completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, and passer rating. Buffalo’s running attack doesn’t present anything special, either. Its top runner, Jaret Patterson, averages 5.6 YPC, but that number is inflated by games against cupcake defenses in the MAC like Kent State’s and Bowling Green’s. Buffalo faced two top-40 run defenses in terms of opposing YPC, Army’s and Northern Illinois’. Both teams limited it to 3.4 or 3.3 YPC and won as underdogs. Moreover, Troy’s defense ranks 11th in forcing turnovers and can exploit Jackson’s proclivity to throw interceptions.

Offensively, Troy presents a more balanced attack led by 1,000-yard rusher B.J. Smith and a backup quarterback in Sawyer Smith who has grown comfortable in his role. He had gone three straight games without throwing a pick before facing App State. His mobility is an added weapon against a Buffalo team that got torched by the mobility of even Miami of Ohio’s quarterback Gus Ragland. It allowed over 100 yards rushing to Central Michigan’s quarterback Tommy Lazzaro and the list continues.

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