Start time: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Alabama
Streaming: WatchESPN.com, WatchESPN app
Betting line: Troy -13.5, Over/Under: 61.5
Both the Trojans and Vandals are off to less than desirable starts to the 2015 season, as both teams currently sit at 1-4. While it may not be the case for Idaho fans, the Trojan faithful are left shaking their heads just a few weeks into the season.
With three of Troy's five opponents thus far being the North Carolina State Wolfpack, Wisconsin Badgers, and Mississippi State Bulldogs, it isn't the record that leaves Trojan fans speechless. It's the mindless mistakes and the fact that the team has been completely unwatchable at times this year.
Rest assured Troy fans, there is hope this week. If it's even possible, the Idaho Vandals have looked far worse than the Trojans at times this year and rank lower than Troy in several important statistical categories.
The big one: the Idaho Vandals are giving up an average of 315.8 rushing yards per game.
What does Troy do best? Run the football.
Now, the fact that the run game is the best the Troy offense has to offer doesn't mean much. To put it bluntly, the Trojans' offense has been flat out bad. Horrendous even. In fact, coming into this week Troy ranks 120th in the nation in points per game. There are only 128 teams...
Back to the point, Troy loves to run the football. They hand the ball off at a rate of 34.2 attempts each week, and that could prove to be the difference in Saturday's game. As average as the Troy rushing attack has looked for much of the year, the Idaho defense is just flat out awful. At a certain point, a defense is just asking to be lit up, and even this Troy team can take advantage of that.
On the flipside, the Idaho offense hasn't exactly been spectacular either. Luckily for the Vandals, Troy's defense has a habit of allowing their opponent to put a big number on the scoreboard. Scoring points is one of the things the Vandals have done well, and they'll need to take advantage of a worn down Trojan defense in order to escape with a win on Saturday.
The thing is, that may be tricky for Idaho. Yes, Troy's defense has its issues, but Idaho has not found a way to excel in any area on the offensive side of the ball. They have put up decent numbers in categories like rushing yards per game and passing yards per game, but they have yet to do anything great, or even above average.
In order to expose the Trojan defense, the Vandal coaching staff needs to do a good job of mixing up the playcalling. If Idaho is able to keep Troy guessing, it could produce favorable results for Idaho.
If you look at the strength of schedule of both schools, the level competition the Vandals have faced has been far less than that of Troy. To this point, Idaho has squared off against the Ohio Bobcats, USC Trojans, Wofford Terriers (their single win), Georgia Southern Eagles, and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
There are two relatively impressive conference matchups in Arkansas State and Georgia Southern, but compared to Troy's earlier schedule, it doesn't even compare.
As a Troy fan, this game marks the start of a stretch to be fairly optimistic about. The three Power Five opponents Troy had lined up are behind them, and it's all conference games from here on out. Troy will look to get the ball rolling for a turnaround this week against the Idaho Vandals, and they have a very good chance of doing just that.
Prediction: Troy win 34-16