Two teams that ended the season with close losses to miss out on conference championships get a chance to remove that bitter taste when Ohio meets Troy in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 23. The Bobcats gave No. 14 Western Michigan all it could handle before losing 29-23 in the MAC championship game. The Trojans were upset by Georgia Southern 28-24 to miss out on a share of the Sun Belt crown.
This is the eighth straight season of bowl eligibility for Ohio under coach Frank Solich, who also guided the Bobcats to Mobile in 2007. The MAC East Division champion missed out on its first conference crown since 1968 but still can reach nine wins for the first time since 2012 – the last time Ohio won a bowl game. The Bobcats are 2-7 overall in bowl games.
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 upset No. 3 Clemson in a 30-24 nail-biter Sept. 10.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Troy opened as 3.5-point favorites and that number held until Tuesday when the line inched up to -4. The total hit the board at 49 and briefly fell to 48.5 before returning to 49, where it currently stands. View the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened Troy as -35. point favourites and took solid two way action on that number. We have since moved to Troy -4 as we are starting to see more action come in on Troy, 63% to be exact.” – Michael Stewart at CarbonSports.ag
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Mobile, Alabama is a mostly cloudy night with temperatures in the low-60’s at kickoff. There will be minimal wind, but no rain is expected.
Ohio – S Mayne Williams (questionable, head), WR Andrew Meyer (questionable, undisclosed), OL Jacob Ready (out indefinitely, suspension)
Troy – No injuries to report
ABOUT OHIO (8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS, 1-11-1 OU): 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 being a big reason why. 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.
ABOUT TROY (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS, 4-7-1 OU 6-2): The Trojans got as far as 8-1 and became the first Sun Belt team to be ranked in the Top 25 before losing two of their final three games and missing 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 resurgence, rushing for 1,232 yards and a conference-best 13 touchdowns.
* Bobcats are 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Trojans are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up loss.
* Over is 8-0-1 in Bobcats last 9 vs. S-Belt.
* Over is 5-0 in Trojans last 5 Bowl games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 57 percent of Covers users are taking the favoured Trojans and the Over is picking up 53 percent of the totals action on Covers. Full consensus date here.