Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#335 Troy -17.5 vs.
#336 Akron 54.5
Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 3:00pm EDT
InfoCision Stadium, Akron
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#335 Troy University
#336 University of Akron
1-1
0-3
-2
-3
2-0
2-1
42
15
30
39

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The Troy Trojans will travel to InfoCision Stadium on Saturday afternoon for a Week 4 matchup versus the Akron Zips.

Troy has established itself as a strong mid-major football program, compiling a 31-8 record over the past three seasons and they put themselves on the map with marquee wins over LSU and Nebraska during that span. They enter the season as a Sun Belt title contender and are returning the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball from a team that finished with a 10-3 overall record in 2018. However, they are off to a 1-1 start after suffering a heartbreaking defeat last week. Can the Trojans bounce back on the road as heavy favorites versus Akron on Saturday?

Trojans lose Smith for the season

After a blowout win versus Campbell to open the year, the Trojans were unable to keep their momentum going last week. Troy found itself in a good, old-fashioned shootout at home versus Southern Mississippi a week ago, but a costly 100-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter helped thwart the Trojans’ comeback bid.

It is hard to blame the loss on starting quarterback Kaleb Barker, who finished the game with 504 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Four Trojans’ receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark, led by Kaylon Geiger, who caught six balls for 118 yards and a score on the day. The junior college transfer is averaging a healthy 20.2 yards per catch through the first two games of his collegiate career and leads the team with 222 yards and a score so far this year.

The two teams combined for 1154 yards of total offense, including 1,018 yards through the air in a wildly entertaining 47-42 game.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Barker top the 500-yard mark again this week against a lackluster Akron defense. The senior from Decatur, Alabama has thrown for 786 yards and six touchdowns this season and looks ready to lead the Trojans to a Sun Belt Championship.

The Trojans did get some bad news over the weekend though, losing running back B.J. Smith for the season to a torn patellar tendon. The senior running back was named the preseason Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,186 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He ran for 108 yards and a touchdown in the Trojans’ season-opener against Campbell, but was limited to one carry for minus-4 yards and one reception for 10 yards against Southern Miss prior to leaving the game on a play that resulted in an incomplete pass.

Akron winless through three games

Akron has gone winless through their first three contests, while averaging just 6.3 points during the first half. They’ve held a lead just one time so far this season, which has rendered the offense one-dimensional and that showed up once again in last week’s 45-24 loss to Central Michigan. After falling behind 27-10 in the first half, Akron was forced to throw the ball 48 times on the evening in a lopsided defeat. Quarterback Kato Nelson did all he could, completing 25-of-41 attempts for 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while also finishing as the team’s leading rusher with 26 yards. Meanwhile, the defense surrendered 533 yards, including 189 on the ground in the MAC Conference opener.

If there was a bright spot last week, it was the special teams unit, which recovered an onside kick, returned two kickoffs for over 40 yards and made all their field goal (and extra point) attempts.

The Zips have struggled to control the line of scrimmage this season and they lost plenty of starters on the defensive side of the ball. That has led to the team giving up 39.3 points per game this season. The Zips have also given up the most sacks in the nation through three weeks (18) and they are averaging a mere 46.0 rushing yards per game and 1.51 yards per carry, which ranks 129th of 130 FBS teams. Faced with all those third-and-long situations, they also come in ranked 124th in FBS on third down, converting just 26.1 percent of the time.

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There is a reason that Akron adds #HereToDevelop to all of its tweets. The Zips know they are in for a long season and they’ve left a ton of room for improvement on both sides of the ball through the first two weeks. Akron has surrendered the most sacks in the nation, and even if you throw out the sack/QB rushing numbers, they still rank second-last in the country in yards per carry. They don’t exactly have a prolific passing offense either and their defense is giving up 533 yards per game. Trojans’ quarterback Kaleb Barker should be able to have another big week versus the Zips after tearing up Southern Mississippi for over 500 yards last week. Expect Troy to trounce them on the road in this game and take the Trojans to cover the number on Saturday afternoon. 

Prediction: Troy Trojans -17.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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The total is set at 57 points, which seems like a conservative number considering Akron’s ineptitude on both sides of the ball. The Zips has been forced to punt the second-most in the nation (22), which is no surprise considering they’ve given up an FBS-worst 18 sacks and rarely convert on third down thanks to a non-existent running game. They also give up a lot of big pass plays through the air, which Barker should be able to take advantage of. Akron has scored 24 and 20 points in each of the past two weeks and if they can approach that number again, this game should have no problem eclipsing the projected total on Saturday night.

Prediction: Over 57
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.