TXST (3-7, 1-5 Sun Belt) vs Troy (8-2, 6-0 Sun Belt)
Date/Time: Saturday November 17, 2:30 PM CST
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium. Troy, AL
Betting Line: Troy -23 1⁄2 O/U 49
Last Meeting: Troy won the last match up in 2017, 69-9.
All-Time Series Record: Troy leads the series, 7-1.
Texas State Outlook
The Bobcats are in the midst of a Sun Belt “triad of doom,” as the last three games of the 2018 season see Texas State going toe to toe to toe with perennial conference powerhouses Appalachian State, Troy, and Arkansas State.
When Texas State can run the ball and control the clock, they can put up a fight with any team. That theory was solidified last week when quarterback Willie Jones III went out with an injury on the first drive of the blowout loss to App State. The quarterback position has been a revolving door between WJIII and Tyler Vitt, but with Jones and his legs, the Bobcats have had the most success. In the three victories the Bobcats have procured this year, those wins produced their three highest rushing totals of 2018.
As of right now Jones III’s shoulder injury leaves his status for Saturday up in the air. Even though WJIII holds a 3-5 record as a starter (two losses were after he got injured very early in the game), he is Texas State’s best hope under center, at least for this year.
On the defensive side of the ball the Bobcats will rely on the play of their usual standouts. Linebackers Bryan London II, Nikolas Daniels and Frankie Griffin will be the aggressors, wreaking havoc in the middle, and the defensive line will put the pressure on Troy’s backfield.
Troy has been inconsistent at times this year, but they played one of their best games last Saturday, and beat a good Georgia Southern team. They overcame some sloppy defensive play in the first quarter, which allowed the Eagles to jump out to a 14-3 lead, but after that the Trojans took control and rattled off 32 uncontested points. Their defensive front seven are among the best in the nation. Led by Hunter Reese and Tron Folsom, they’re ranked #6 in sacks and #7 for tackles in the backfield.
The Bobcats haven’t been playing too well this year and only have one conference win against Georgia State (40-31). Last week, against Appalachian State, they only scored one touchdown in a 38-7 loss. Their offense was anemic for most of the game, gaining only 218 yards and turning the ball over three times. Their defense couldn’t handle Appalachian State either, allowing 468 yards almost evenly divided between passing and rushing.
A Trojan win will set up a showdown with Appalachian State on November 24th in Boone, NC for the East Division Title. But, if Troy takes this game lightly, they could be embarrassed like they were at Liberty. The Bobcats will be playing for pride when they come to Troy, and a win against the conference leader would give them some bragging rights and hope for next year.
VE: At this point in the season Texas State is playing for pride and to generate momentum going into 2019. The previous two-game winning streak put some wind into the Bobcats’ sail and really showed what they can do when the running game and the defense are firing on all cylinders under head coach Everett Withers. Prediction: Texas State 34, Troy 31.
JE: Troy should be able to handle the Bobcats and get the win. They’ve still got some starters on the injury list, but the #2’s have stepped up and are doing well. Sawyer Smith, who came in for the injured Kaleb Barker in game six, has settled in at the quarterback position and is doing very well. Against the Eagles he threw for 287 yards and one touchdown even though one of his favorite receivers, Deondre Douglas, was also out due to an injury. Running back B.J. Smith can be counted on to gain 100+ yards to balance Troy’s offense. Prediction: Troy 38, Texas State 17.