When: Saturday, September 14 at 6 p.m.
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama
Line: Troy -2.5. O/U 49
History: USM 7-2
Keys to the Game
The duos of B.J. Smith and D.K. Billingsley in the backfield, as well as Reggie Todd and Kaylon Geiger split out wide, need to have another productive game.
The backfield played a large role in their game against Campbell and will be looking to do the same heading into Week 3 against Southern Miss.
Three of the backs for Mississippi State averaged 5+ yards per carry against Southern Miss with phenom Kylin Hill leading the way on 14 carries for 123 yards (8.8 ypc) and a score.
The Golden Eagles will face another phenom in Smith, who averaged 10.8 ypc on the ground for the Trojans in Week 1. Billingsley added 86 yards and two scores.
If this group can get going once again for the Trojans, it will open up the passing game for Kaleb Barker to go to work with Todd and Geiger, who both went over 100 yards through the air against the Fighting Camels.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Southern Miss will be looking for a bounce back game against the Trojans following a Week 2 rout by the Bulldogs and prior to a trip next week to Tuscaloosa to face-off against Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide.
Look for them to play aggressive on defense trying to wreak havoc in the backfield. They will test Barker early off the edge and force him to climb in the pocket and make a play.
On offense, it is all about execution. Stay ahead of the sticks and steer clear of those third and long situations.
The Golden Eagles need to enter the locker room at halftime with a lead and never look back.
This line opened at Troy -3 and has since dropped to -2.5. Per Action Network, 55% of the bets are coming in on USM accounting for 74% of the dollars. This means that sharp money (big bettors) are coming in on the Golden Eagles.
The total opened at 50 and has since come down to 49. 58% of the bets are on the under accounting for 57% of the dollars.
This is a USM team expected to finish middle of the pack in the C-USA West behind the likes of UAB, North Texas, and potentially Louisiana Tech.
The Golden Eagles have now had two games, including one against an SEC opponent, to work through any early-season hiccups.
Meanwhile, the Trojans played a Week 1 cupcake in Campbell and have not been on the game field in nearly two weeks.
Off weeks this early in the season are not all that beneficial in terms of the health of the players. However, it is beneficial in the sense that Troy has an extra week to dig into the film and prepare for the Golden Eagles.
These two schools have faced off nine times dating back to 1935. The most recent being in 2016 when the Trojans left Hattiesburg with a 37-31 win.
Following an off week, I expect the Trojans to get off to a slow start. Personally, I believe this line should be flipped with the Golden Eagles being the favorite to win.
That said, sharps bet the number, not the team. More often than not, experts would rather get a good number with a lesser team than a bad number with a better team.
In that sense, see if the line moves back to the key number of +3 for the Golden Eagles.
Final Score: USM 29-23
USM 1H ML
USM +3 or better full game