Date: Saturday, December 3
Time: 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium — Troy, Alabama
Betting Line: Troy -8.5, O/U 48
Series History: Coastal Carolina leads the all-time series 3-2. CCU has beaten Troy in each of the last three meetings (2019, 2020, 2021).
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&C’s apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Troy’s past few seasons show that it’s been a rather quick turnaround in the first year under head coach Jon Sumrall. Sumrall, recently recognized as the league’s Coach of the Year, began to realize that his team had championship potential shortly after he accepted the job when Troy’s most experienced players began opting to return.
“You started to get Austin Stidham and Carlton Martial some veteran guys who I think maybe were not willing and comfortable leaving off of being a five-win team two or three times in a row,” Sumrall said of assessing his team in the preseason. :They wanted to come back and leave a different legacy, a different impression with their last year...All these guys who were either sixth year guys, or I think probably had some other people reaching out about transferring, you get all those guys to decide ‘let’s go back and do this one more time together at Troy and leave a different legacy,’ that gave me hope that we could get it turned quicker.”
Martial, who Sumrall mentioned, now holds the FBS career record for tackles with 555, breaking Luke Kuechly’s record of 532. Playing in ten games this season, Martial is averaging 11.2 tackles per game from his linebacker spot. As a team, the Troy defense is holding opponents to just 16.8 points per game, which ranks second in the Sun Belt. Marshall was named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week.
Offensively, Troy are balanced team. In the backfield you have the tandem DK Billingsley and Kimani Vidal, who each average 4.8 and 5.3 yards per carry, respectively. In their most recent victory over Arkansas State, Vidal ran the ball 33 times for 208 yards and four touchdowns. Vidal, only a sophomore, was an All-Sun Belt Second Team selection for his performance this season.
Troy can throw the ball as well, but are somewhat prone to turnovers in that attach. Trojan quarterbacks have thrown 13 interceptions this year with a completion percentage of 62.8. If there’s a way to beat them, frankly, it’s by not allowing them to win the time of possession.
Coastal Carolina Preview
Coastal Carolina, with a record of 9-2, represent the East division of the Sun Belt in this year’s title game. While James Madison are not eligible for the championship game due to this being their first year in FBS, they technically finished atop the division.
Let’s get this out of the way: it’s not clear if now three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year Grayson McCall will make his return from a leg injury in this game. Head coach Jamey Chadwell indicated this week that it’s more likely that McCall will play in their bowl game than risk further injury prior to that. That being said, he didn’t rule it out.
“He’s getting better each week,” Chadwell stated. “It’s closer probably to a bowl game than it would be this week. He’s improved every week. Saturday will be four weeks [since his injury]. It was a three-to-six week injury. He couldn’t have played Saturday, so that was three weeks. So we’ll just continue to see how he’s healing. Our doctors are saying it’s closer to six weeks.”
The Chants come off of a 47-7 loss against James Madison this past weekend - one that Chadwell expects his team to quickly learn from. Backup quarterback Jarrett Guest, starting in place of McCall, finished the game 10 of 23 for 99 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also ran for 26 yards on 14 attempts and was sacked four times. The other members of the offense made plenty of mistakes as well, but the quarterback is obviously an incredibly important piece of Chadwell’s RPO offense.
Coastal’s offensive line is fairly good when it comes to pass protection, but they’ll have to be near perfect against a Troy team that has racked up 38 sacks this season.
Defensively, nose tackle Jerrod Clark is a impressive name to watch for those looking ahead to the NFL Draft. At 6’4” and 340 pounds, the Massachusetts native is arguably CCU’s best player on that side of the ball. In addition to being an overall nuisance for opposing backfields with nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, Clark draws a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines. The Chants are significantly better at defending the run than they are the pass and a large part of the credit for that goes to the redshirt senior Clark.
While the Chants’ success this season is a testament to the kind of program that Chadwell has built in is his time in Conway, the mental fatigue that comes with that and playing beyond your experience is a lot. I expect the Trojans to continue riding the momentum that they have built all year and capitalize on the fact that they have a more complete team, currently. Troy wins 27-17