Week 4 of the college football slate brings us a non-conference matchup of Group of Five programs when the Sun Belt travels to face a member of Conference USA in the Bluegrass State. The Troy Trojans are on the road as they make the trip up the east coast to battle the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon. Troy won outright as they downed Marshall 16-7 at home as a 3.5-point underdog in their most recent game last Saturday. Western Kentucky obliterated FIU by a one-sided 73-0 blowout at home, easily covering the 31-point line, in their previous contest last Saturday. In the all-time series between the teams, the Trojans own a 5-2 advantage, including a 32-26 road victory in the most recent matchup back on October 26, 2013.
Troy Trojans Look to Pick Up Road VictoryTroy put together a stellar defensive showing as they took down a good Marshall squad at home to win outright as an underdog last week. The Trojans improved to 2-2 overall on the season and evened their conference mark at 1-1 with the triumph. Against Marshall last week, Troy took the lead for good just over four minutes into the game on a scoop-six and controlled the game from there. The Trojans dominated the total offense category, outgaining Marshall 421-174, which helped make up that they gave up more first downs (15) than they picked up (13), lost time of possession 30:56 to 29:04 and turned the ball over three times while forcing only one takeaway. Their lone touchdown in the game came on that scoop-six by Buddha Jones.
On the season, the Trojans are 10th in the country in passing offense with an average of 343.3 yards per game through the air and 126th in the country in rushing offense with 66 yards per contest on the ground. Troy is 105th in the FBS in scoring offense with 23 points per game while they are 49th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing an average of 21 points per contest. Gunnar Watson is 95 of 143 passing for 1,249 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions on the year. Jarret Doege is six of 12 passing for 124 yards and a score in his limited action. Kimani Vidal is second on the team for Troy on the ground with 42 carries for 149 yards plus a score this season. DK Billingsley (27 carries, team-high 162 yards, TD) and Jamontez Woods (16 carries, 35 yards) have shared the backup duties this year. In the passing game, Jabre Barber (20 receptions, 308 yards, TD) and Deshon Stoudemire (18 grabs, 162 yards, TD) are the top two targets in the passing attack. RaJae’ Johnson (10 grabs, 173 yards, two TD), Tez Johnson (eight receptions, 200 yards) and Marcus Rogers (10 catches, 161 yards) have made their share of plays in the aerial game as well. Brooks Buce has hit all 10 extra point attempts and five of six field goal tries with a long of 40. Zach Long hit his lone extra point attempt without attempting a field goal this season.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Seek to Build On Massive BlowoutWestern Kentucky bounced back from a narrow overtime defeat at Indiana in a game they covered the line in by absolutely pasting FIU at home last week. The Hilltoppers improved to 3-1 on the season overall and are 1-0 in Conference USA after winning by more than double what the point spread was. Western Kentucky led 14-0 after the opening quarter as they scored on the final play of the stanza and never looked back. The Hilltoppers were up 42-0 at the half and cruised the rest of the way. Western Kentucky piled up a 690-180 advantage in total offense, racked up a 32-10 edge in first downs and forced two turnovers, including a scoop-six, while committing only one. Those numbers helped overlook a narrow 30:32 to 29:28 disadvantage in time of possession.
The Hilltoppers enter this contest 11th in the nation with 340 yards per game through the air while they are 62nd in rushing with 168.8 yards per contest. Western Kentucky is seventh in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up an average of 47.5 points per contest while they are 39th in scoring defense by allowing 19.3 points a game. Austin Reed has hit on 105 of 143 passes for 1,263 yards with 14 touchdowns against three interceptions while adding 59 yards plus two scores on the ground. Darius Ocean (three of six, 72 yards, TD, INT) and Caden Veltkamp (four of four, 25 yards) have seen limited work in mop-up duty. Kye Robichaux leads the team on the ground with 36 carries for 265 yards plus a score. Davion Ervin-Poindexter (34 carries, 132 yards, three TD), Jakairi Moses (16 carries, 96 yards) and L.T. Sanders (five carries, 73 yards, TD) have made the most of their limited opportunities this season. Daewood Davis leads the team with 24 receptions for 364 yards plus three scores. Malachi Corley (20 receptions, 275 yards, five TD), Jaylen Hall (11 receptions, 131 yards, TD), Michael Mathison (18 grabs, 121 yards) and Joshua Simon (five grabs, 104 yards, two TD) have each gone over the 100-yard mark in receiving yards this season. Brayden Narveson has drilled all 25 extra point attempts and five of eight field goal attempts with a long of 34 this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
We’ve got a couple of pass happy offenses on the field for this contest so the potential for fireworks is definitely on the table. Both teams are coming off their best defensive showings of the season as Troy stifled Marshall while scoring a defensive touchdown while Western Kentucky blanked an overmatched FIU program with a defensive score of their own. It’s going to be interesting to see what carries the day in this game: the offenses or the defenses, as both teams have been above average on that side of the ball so far this year. At the end of the day, home field advantage may well be what decides this game. Troy is 0-2 on the road as they have been outscored 60-38 in those games. Sure, one was the Hail Mary loss to Appalachian State but it still went in the books as a L. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky is 2-0 at home having outscored the opposition 111-27 in those games. The Hilltoppers feed off the crowd and get the victory here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Each team enters this game having split their four games in relation to the total this season. Troy has seen combined point totals of 38 (at Ole Miss), 55 (vs. Alabama A&M), 60 (at Appalachian State) and 23 (vs. Marshall) this season. The totals for their games were set at 57, 51.5, 51.5 and 51.5 at kickoff in their games on the year. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky has seen combined totals of 65 (vs. Austin Peay), 66 (at Hawaii), 63 (at Indiana) and 73 (vs. FIU) in their games. The Hilltoppers saw posted totals of 72.5, 67.5, 61.5 and 65 points in their games at kickoff this season. It’s hard to get an accurate gauge as to what to expect given that both teams are pass happy and have been decent on defense. Still, lean toward the fireworks to rule the day, pushing this game over the number.