Start Time: Saturday, September 16th, 8:00 PM ET
Announcers: Adam Young (play-by-play) and Danny Knee (analyst)
Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium
Series: Troy leads 3-1
Odds: Troy (-7) 63 total
After the ugly performance at Boise State, the Trojans bounced back strong in the home opener against FCS Alabama State as Neal Brown’s squad dominated from start to finish. Alabama State’s only score came on a pick-six and the Troy offense collected 605 yards on the night.
Brandon Silvers bounced back strong throwing for 345 yards but the surprise was the the Troy running game. Lead back Jordan Chunn scored three touchdowns on 13 carries but sophomore Jamarius Henderson bursted onto the scene. The Memphis transfer did some work in limited touches at Boise State, but had his breakout performance against Alabama State. The Alabama native had 107 rushing yards on eight carries with two touchdowns. He’s going to be a star and is an excellent sidekick to Chunn’s power running style
But the story for the season has been the Troy defense that is only giving up 3.8 yards per play. Teams are struggling to run the ball on the Trojans and Troy has some legit ballhawks in the secondary. You could make the case that Vic Koenning is the best defensive coordinator in the Group of Five. It’s been a balanced effort from the Troy defense and Koenning’s unique scheme that plays five defensive backs at nearly all times proves to be very confusing to opposing quarterbacks time after time.
Kicking game could be a concern in this game as Troy has given up some big plays in the return department and the Trojans missed a field goal last week. This squad still has special teams issues that must be figured out.
New Mexico State Outlook
New Mexico State comes into this game hot off a rivalry win against in-state Mountain West foe New Mexico. While the win is a step in the right direction for the team, they did fail to put the game away while up 30-5 in the second half.
With that being said, they do have a much improved defense this season (currently ranked 83rd in total defense) and an offense that is red hot.
Currently ranked 20th in the nation, yes you read that right, the Aggies offense is averaging 6.13 yards per play and 524.5 yards per game. Amazing numbers considering their first two opponents have been Arizona State and New Mexico.
Point is, this team can score points and will attack the outside of the field with the pass. Tyler Rogers has been an animal these first two weeks, passing the ball around to multiple receivers. Look for that to continue versus Troy.
The running game has not produced as much as fans expected but with the passing success, nobody seems to mind.
I think Doug Martin will have this team prepared and motivated as this is their home opener off a big rivalry win.
Adam: When looking back on the 2017 season, this could be the best game of the Sun Belt and one that made a huge difference in determining the league champion. The Aggies have been the surprise of the year as quarterback Tyler Rogers has been throwing darts and the NMSU defense has been making some plays. Meanwhile, Troy got off to a slow start but they still have the best team in the Sun Belt on paper.
The Trojans have owned NMSU since Neal Brown arrived (Aggies have been outscored 104-13 in two meetings) so that gives them the edge. It should be a wild atmosphere at Aggie Memorial Stadium and the Aggies will give the Trojans their best shot. However in the end, the Trojans will just have too much firepower and it will be the awesome running back duo of Jordan Chunn and Jamarius Henderson that puts the Trojans over the top in a thriller.
Prediction: Troy 43, New Mexico State 33
Kyle: I’m super excited for this game. Troy is a really good opponent and is a good measuring stick for this promising Aggies team. The defense will be tested early and often as Troy has a senior quarterback and good skill surrounding him. The offensive line is a bit of a question mark which is good for the aggressive and efficient NMSU front seven. Look for Aggie Memorial Stadium to be packed and rockin’ in this early season Sun Belt showdown! It’ll be a close one in Las Cruces and as much as I want to pick the Aggies, I sadly can’t.
Prediction: Troy 32, New Mexico State 28