Start Time: 1 p.m. EST, Nov. 7
Location: Paulson Stadium; Statesboro, GA
Weather: 77 degrees at kickoff, 10 MPH winds
Records: Georgia Southern (4-2, 2-2 Sun Belt); Troy (4-2, 2-1 Sun Belt)
Betting Line: Troy -3; O/U 55
Georgia Southern Outlook
With last week’s win over South Alabama in the books, Georgia Southern will take on a much tougher task this weekend when Troy comes to town.
The offense was much better than it had been as of late last week, as Wesley Kennedy III tied for the team lead in rushing yards and put the game against the Jaguars away for good with two fourth-quarter scores.
The Trojans though have owned the Eagles in the past three meetings between these two clubs, going 3-0 over that stretch with an average margin of victory over Southern of 19 points, so these games have barely been competitive since GS last won in 2016.
In order for GS to have a chance to win in this one, Kennedy needs to be involved early and often both between the tackles and on the outside on pitch plays. In the three games this year that Kennedy has received double-digit touches, the Eagles are 2-0. They are 2-2 in the games where WK3 has not touched the ball more than nine times.
Shai Werts will also need to play a clean game for Southern to have an opportunity to win. After throwing a total of one interception combined in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Werts has been uncharacteristically careless with the football this year, having thrown 4 picks in just six games.
Maybe some of that comes from a real lack of consistency in the Eagles offense on a weekly basis, but either way those mistakes need to be avoided for Georgia Southern to have a chance in this one.
Defensively, the Eagles have to follow the blueprint from last week’s game against South Alabama: Get pressure with the front-seven and take the heat off of a secondary that has had a rocky go of it this year.
We know Troy wants to throw the ball down the field, so there should not be any excuses as to why for a fourth consecutive year GS is caught off guard by that.
One would think that with starting quarterback Gunnar Watson nursing an upper body injury, the Troy offense would naturally have some regression on offense. You would also be wrong.
Under backup Jacob Free, the Trojans have scored 34 and 38 points in the team’s previous two games with Free throwing for over 300 yards in both of those contests. Head coach Chip Lindsay has done a great job with getting Free acclimated to the offense in the absence of Watson, and it was truly the defense’s fault that Troy fell to Georgia State two weeks ago.
Free in two full games of action has thrown for an average of 374 yards per game with 4 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes in the process. The backup should see plenty of work here, as Troy looks to continue its recent winning streak over Georgia Southern.
Defensively, the struggles Troy has had have come through defending the pass which typically is not a strong point for its opponent this week. Teams are throwing for an average of 254 yards per game against the Trojans, but are only running for 135.5 yards per game through 6 contests.
If the Trojans can snuff out Southern’s running game early and make Werts take to the air, it has been shown that opposing teams can take advantage of Georgia Southern’s lack of passing threats.
With all of that said and everything pointing towards another Troy win, I am going to take Georgia Southern and the upset here. The Eagles should be hungry for its first win over this opponent since 2016, and I think they narrowly pull it off.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 31, Troy 30