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In the final game on the bowl schedule on Saturday night, the Troy Trojans and Ohio Bobcats duke it out in what could be a very, very interesting clash between two teams that are fortunate just to be in bowls. The Trojans, the Sun Belt favorites at the outset of the season, especially after beating the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, choked away a chance at winning the conference, while Ohio lost its composure in the final game of the regular season and cost itself a chance of playing in the MAC Championship Game. The oddsmakers expect to see a close game, but is that really justified? Check out our New Orleans Bowl picks for this duel in the Crescent City.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Matchup: Ohio Bobcats vs. Troy Trojans
Date: Saturday, December 18th, 9:00 ET
Location: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Line: OTB
Bobcats Notes: The reason that the New Orleans Bowl odds are off the board right now is due to the fact that QB Boo Jackson may or may not be playing for the Bobcats. The starting quarterback for the team is fighting some academic issues right now, and though the team left on Wednesday to head to the Bayou, Jackson wasn't one of those making the trip. This could still be sorted out before Saturday, and if that's the case, Jackson would be the man under center, presumably. However, if he is suspended for the game, it will be up to QB Philip Bates to take over. Bates started the season as the man for Head Coach Frank Solich, but he has really been reduced to just an option/Wildcat type of quarterback. Bates is the team's second leading rusher with 508 yards this year, but his passing stats are atrocious. He went just 9-of-20 for 178 yards with a TD and two INTs on the year. Either way, this probably means more work for RB Vince Davidson. Davidson was a large disappointment this season in Athens, as he only ran for 509 yards and an average of 3.9 yards per carry. He did find pay dirt six times on the campaign, as well as once as a receiver. Speaking of receivers, there certainly aren't a heck of a lot of them for Ohio to be proud of. This was a dismal passing game all season long with an average of just 158.4 yards per game, and as a result, there were no receivers which caught more than 481 yards worth of passes this year. Defensively, Ohio was consistent for the majority of the year, allowing just 98.9 yards per game on the ground and 21.8 points per game in total. However, if you take out the 43 points that the Ohio State Buckeyes put on the Bobcats, they didn't allow another foe to score more than 31 all season long.
Trojans Notes: As the Trojans continue to prove, they are not just your average Sun Belt team. Yes, Troy did blow the Sun Belt title by getting inexplicably blown out of the water by the Florida International Golden Panthers at home earlier in the year, but the squad rebounded and locked up its bid here in the New Orleans Bowl once again. This is a quick firing offense that you really don't want to mess with. Troy put up 444.8 yards per game this year, losing just a bit of production from the days of QB Levi Brown. However, assuming that he stays healthy and is the starting signal caller for all four of his years in Alabama, QB Corey Robinson is going to shatter every school, and potentially some national records as well. Robinson is absolutely the best quarterback in the Sun Belt, and he legitimately might be one of the top 25 signal callers in the land as well. The true freshman threw for 3,339 yards and 24 TDs this year, and though he also threw 15 picks, mistakes are to expected from youngsters. There were a number of different backs that carried the football this year, and four of them made it over the 300 yard mark. One of those, WR Jerrel Jernigan really isn't a running back, but he is used as the Wildcat quarterback. He is also the team's top receiver, catching 77 passes for 774 yards with five scores, and he is one of the more effective kick returners in the nation. Needless to say, this senior has done everything possible in his career at Troy, and he hopes that one more stellar game in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl can get him on the draft board this coming year in the NFL Draft. He might need to be very, very explosive in this one though, as the Trojans really struggled at times defensively. Outside of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders the other bowl teams that they faced this year all scored at least 41 points on them. Troy ranked No. 94 in defense overall in the country.
The Final Word: Regardless of whether Jackson plays in the R&L Carriers Bowl or not, we have no doubts in our mind that the Trojans are the right play. Ohio already nearly lost to a significantly lesser Sun Belt team, the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, and Troy is a much, much better team than this. There should be at least a slight home field advantage for the Trojans, who are very familiar with playing in this building, and the end result should be a comfortable two score win to score a 'W' for the Sun Belt.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Free Pick: Troy
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Prediction: Troy 44 – Ohio 31