I tend to look up as many stats and as much information as I can in preparation for the game I'm writing about. This one's difficult because in addition to the relative small sample size of data we have of each team, they also both had blowout losses to SEC powerhouses in their last game. How much can you really take from those games? For example, Troy is giving up 6.1 yards per rush on defense this season. When you take out the Georgia game? 5.15 yards per rush. Now, you can cherry-pick stats like that all day to make them say what you want them to say. But in looking at this particular game, I don't want to draw too many conclusions from each of those games. That said, what are the most intriguing matchups to watch Sunday night?
ULM RBs Centarius Donald & Tyler Cain vs. Troy LB Mark Wilson & DB Montres Kitchens
The Trojans haven't exactly impressed anyone on defense this season - they've given up at least 34 points in each game this season, including 38 to Abilene Christian - but Wilson and Kitchens are playmakers. Troy doesn't have a particularly intimidating front line, so I expect Donald and Cain to get to the second level.
And after two pretty impressive games to open the season, the Warhawks failed to really get anything going on the ground against LSU. After a week off to regroup, Donald should still be the centerpiece of the offense, with Cain the slasher coming in to mix it up with about 10 touches. If they are able to turn three- and four-yard runs into 10- and 20-yard gains by making the back end defenders miss, Troy doesn't really stand a chance.
ULM Pass Rush vs. Troy Offensive Line
The Trojans have run 272 total offensive plays, with a perfect split between run and pass plays. The key difference? Troy is averaging less than three yards per rush.
Trojans QB Brandon Silvers will probably go back to splitting time with Dontreal Pruitt after he sat out of the Georgia game with a concussion. The Warhawks have been quite stout against the run all season (even for most of the LSU game), so if Troy is going to be successful, they're going to have to gain their yards through the air.
Meanwhile, ULM also has 12 sacks on the season, with four defenders having multiple sacks through just three games. Monroe doesn't do too many confusing things on defense; they'll either rush four and sit back in zone coverage, or occasionally they'll send a five- or six-man zone blitz. If Silvers and Pruitt have done their homework and understand where the pressure will be coming from, they could have some success through the air- ULM is susceptible to the deep ball.
ULM WR Ajalen Holley vs. Troy DB Tray Hall
Holley only has nine receptions on the season, but he's averaging over 21 yards per catch. He single-handedly broke the Idaho game wide open for the Warhawks and is the best big-play threat they have right now.
Hall is a JUCO transfer who has stepped in right away and played pretty well. He had two pass breakups in the Duke game to go along with a TFL. He seems to have the type of athleticism needed to man up on Holley and keep him out of the endzone. Whoever gets the better of this matchup could really make the difference in what I expect to be a pretty high-scoring game.
Check out Haisten Willis' preview for a more Troy-centric look at the game