Friday, December 17, 2010
New Orleans Bowl: Troy (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4)
By Andrea Adelson
Troy won a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship for the fifth straight season and is in a bowl game for the fifth straight year, taking on Ohio in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ohio missed a chance to play for the MAC championship after losing to Kent State in the regular-season finale. The MAC has a 2-1 edge in bowl games against the Sun Belt in the last four years.
WHO TO WATCH: Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan. One of the best all-purpose players in the country, Jernigan can do it all. He ranks No. 7 in the country in all-purpose yards, averaging 165 yards a game. He lines up in the Wildcat formation, he starts at receiver and returns punts and kickoffs. Jernigan also has a touchdown pass this season. We are not talking about a one-hit wonder, either. Jernigan holds the school and Sun Belt records for career receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose yards.
WHAT TO WATCH: Ohio running back Vince Davidson versus Troy run defense. Ohio struggled big time trying to run the ball against Kent State. Davidson only had 19 yards rushing, a week after getting 100 in a big win over Temple. Troy has had difficulty stopping the run at times this season, giving up an average of 171 yards a game. Davidson is not the only one who can run -- when backup quarterback Phil Bates is in the game, he is known to scramble, too.
WHY TO WATCH: Yes, this game has been universally panned as one of the least interesting in bowl season. But Troy is usually fun to watch in bowl games. The Trojans have gone to overtime in their past two bowl appearances -- losing to Central Michigan last season 44-41 in a thrilling double-overtime game in the GMAC Bowl, and dropping a 30-27 contest to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl in 2008. There is also some history that could be made -- Ohio is 0-4 all-time in bowl games.
PREDICTION: Ohio 30, Troy 24. Troy was not as strong as it usually is this season, and has struggled at times behind Corey Robinson and on defense. Yes, Ohio blew a chance to play for the MAC title game, but the Bobcats should be able to run on Troy and control time of possession.