When: Saturday, September 28 at 6 p.m.
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama
Line: Troy -6.5, o/u 61
Series History: Arkansas State 9-6
Last week, we got a sneak preview during the three OT thriller, 37-34 win for Texas State over Georgia State, as to what conference play might be like this year for the Sun Belt.
This week, we have a full slate of Sun Belt games.
Keys to the Game
Troy Trojans: Defense, defense, defense. The Trojans need to get after new starter Layne Hatcher in this game and not allow him time to sit in the pocket and target his top wideout, Bayless, downfield.
Bayless has already racked up 476 yards, 18.3 YPC, and 6 TDs in just 4 games. This front 7 for Troy needs to play fast and aggressive in the box, while the secondary must limit the big plays; keep everything in front and rally for the tackle.
On the other end, the offense should have no problem. The Red Wolves are allowing 34.25 points per game. Granted, Fromm and the Bulldogs are a large reason for that in putting up 55 against them.
Nonetheless, the Trojans should have no issues moving the ball on offense. Billingsley and Woolfolk stepped in nicely handling the workload in the backfield.
Arkansas State Red Wolves: Capitalize on a weak Trojans secondary. Troy has given up six passing TDs in just 3 games, including a 463 yard, 3 TD game through the air to Southern Miss quarterback, Jack Abraham.
Troy’s opponents have been unsuccessful in establishing any sort of ground game thus far this season. More the reason why the Red Wolves should look to attack and expose the Trojans in the passing game.
Hatcher gets the nod over injured quarterback Logan Bonner.
If Hatcher can hit his open receivers and let them go to work, the Trojans could be in for a long day on defense.
For the Arkansas State defense, keep Barker in check. Coming off back-to-back solid outings, he will be looking to keep that momentum entering this contest.
With Smith out, Barker is the key to this offense. Other than the handful of carries that will be split between the backfield, the offense runs heavily through Barker, as he is one of the better quarterbacks in the conference.
Troy is receiving 57% of the tickets accounting for 77% of the dollars hence why the line has jumped as far as Troy -7.5.
Sharp action drew the line back down to -6.5 where it currently sits. I expect this action to continue. If money on Troy brings the line up to the key number of -7, sharps are likely to jump on it.
As for the total, it opened at 55.5 and has moved all the way up to the current number of 61 due to over 90% of the tickets coming in on the over.
Although Arkansas State is sitting at 2-2, their two losses have come to SMU and UGA. Both are 4-0 due to solid quarterback play from Buechele and Fromm, respectively.
Troy suffered a tough loss against Southern Miss in Week 3, not only because of the score, but also the loss of BJ Smith for the season. The Trojans were able to bounce back in Week 4 in a rout of the Akron Zips.
Like the sharps, I will be looking to take Arkansas State at anything +7 or better. I think the Red Wolves will prove to be a tough game for the Trojans and would be more than willing
to take the Red Wolves plus the points in the first Sun Belt game for each of these teams.
Arkansas State +7 or better
Final Score Prediction: Troy 32-28