Dollar General Bowl Pick
The Dollar General Bowl looks like a new bowl, but it’s actually one of the older ones. It’s the former GoDaddy and GMAC Bowl, which has been around since 1999. It features Ohio, a team that lost in the MAC title Game and Troy, a team that dropped two of its final three Games that also lost them the Sun Belt title. The Trojans were early -4 point favorites for the Game in Mobile, Alabama.
Playing in the top-heavy MAC, there aren’t many good things to say about the Bobcats, who were the only team in their division that had a winning record. That said, they did have a couple nice road wins that stood out, at Miami (OH) and at Toledo, who finished 9-3. They battled at the end of the season as the offense couldn’t get going with their only win coming in a 9-3 result.
But things went similarly for Troy, who started off hot, almost upsetting Clemson on the road and then taking down Southern Miss the next weekend. After a dominant run through the Sun Belt with wins over Appalachian State and Idaho — both bowl teams — they fell big to Arkansas State and lost to non-bowl team Georgia Southern in the season finale. Their only win in the final three Games was against a putrid Texas State team.
Oddly enough one of Texas State’s two wins came in the opener against Ohio 56-54 in three overtimes. Obviously, the Bobcats have come a long way since then.
Ohio is led by its defense, no matter what that Texas State loss showed. The Bobcats didn’t allow any MAC opponent to top 30 points all season, including keeping Western Michigan in check in the Conference championship Game. The defense has the MAC Defensive Player of the Year (Tarell Basham, 11.5 sacks) and leading tackler Blair Brown, and that’s how they win Games.
On the offensive end, who knows what Ohio will do. Quarterback Greg Windham returned from injury for the MAC title Game and he looked good to an extent with three touchdowns, but completing 46.7% of passes is never a positive. This offense somewhat struggled without him, but it isn’t exactly lights out with him. The running Game is fine led by Dorian Brown, but he had just 10 carries for eight yards against the Broncos. Without the ground Game, this offense is in trouble.
Troy’s defense is somewhat unknown, mostly because of the inconstancies in the final few Games. And there will always be that Game in which they held Deshaun Watson and Clemson to 30 points.
But the reason Troy is favored in this Game is because of its balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Brandon Silvers, who is completing 64.2% of his passes for 22 TDs and 10 INTs. Not great, but better than anything Ohio has. The question will be if the Trojans can run in this Game behind Jordan Chunn, who had 1,232 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
Ohio held Western Michigan to 2.6 yards per carry (sacks included) and is actually sixth in the nation in rushing yards allowed per Game (105.8). If Chunn can’t find room, this offense slows down a bit and that was seen throughout the year, namely in Chunn’s two worst Games against Clemson and Arkansas State.
If Ohio can stop that running attack, this Game is close to even, which gives Ohio an edge in the spread.
The Bobcats are 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, 9-2 ATS in their last 11 non-Conference Games and 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. the Sun Belt. The Trojans are 2-5 ATS in their last seven overall and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five vs. the MAC.
Both teams have trends pointing to the over, as do the last two matchups in this bowl Game. The Sun Belt has won three of the last Four Games in this bowl, but the MAC took the three prior to that.
Our Pick – Ohio +4