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New Orleans Bowl

North Texas

vs.

Troy

12/16/17

Bowl season gets started with a matchup between teams formerly in the same conference. Back in 2012, North Texas and Troy both played in the Sun Belt and have plenty of history against each other. Granted, that’s not going to help determine the winner of the New Orleans Bowl. The Trojans opened as -6.5 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Troy quietly had a great season, which included a road win at LSU. Outside of the loss at Boise State in the opener, Troy’s only other loss came to South Alabama, which was one of the hardest teams to predict in the country. The Trojans ran through most of the Sun Belt, although didn't have a game against Appalachian State, which they shared the conference title with.

North Texas had a chance to win Conference USA, but was no match for Florida Atlantic in the championship game, falling 41-17, following up a previous 69-31 loss to the Owls earlier in the season. It’s not the easiest thing to compare these teams with the Mean Green getting blown out by FAU twice and their only other losses on the road in non-conference play to SMU and Iowa. Seth Littrell may be one of the most underrated coaches around, taking UNT from one win two years ago, to nine wins and almost a conference title.

The biggest difference in this game is that Troy actually has a defense, giving up 17.5 points per game. While North Texas has nine wins, it’s giving up 33.8 points per game and more than 200 yards through both the air and on the ground. That defense hasn't stopped many teams this season and is the main reason Troy is favored.

The Trojans don’t have the most explosive offense, but Brandon Silvers has done enough to put up at least 32 points in five of the last six games. In his senior season under center, Silvers rarely turned it over and that’s partly due to his 7.25 yards per attempt. Top running back Jordan Chunn is the player that could break out in this one against the weak UNT rush defense.

The other side of the field may be what decides this game, though, because Mason Fine leads the North Texas offense to almost 36 points per game. Fine is still only a sophomore and posted a solid 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Those interceptions could be a problem in this one, especially against this defense. But the bigger question for the UNT offense is the status of senior running back Jeffery Wilson (1,215 yards, 16 TDs), who has missed the last couple games with a foot injury. Nic Smith has filled in fine as a backup, but the absence of Wilson definitely doesn't help. That’ll be something to keep an eye on because the Mean Green will need to get some kind of ground game going against a defense that has held opponents to just 3.0 yards per carry and only seven rushing touchdowns.

 

North Texas had a better 8-5 ATS mark this season and will try to pull off an upset against a Troy team that’s 5-7 ATS. The Mean Green are 7-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games, while the Trojans are 1-5 ATS in their last six in non-conference with that win being against LSU. The over has hit in Troy’s last six bowl games.

Our Pick - North Texas -7

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