Things did not go as planned for the Troy Trojans last time they played Boise State.
In 2017 the pair of mid-major juggernauts battled in what turned out to be a defensive slugfest to open the season. BSU quarterback Brett Rypien was fine early on, but dual-threat QB Montell Cozart appeared to lead a final push to the Trojan end zone before throwing a game sealing TD in the 24-13 Broncos victory.
Sportsbooks are offering shorter than (-400) payoff odds on the favorited Broncos this weekend, in no small part based on the previous result. House bookies are aware of the tenacious defense both schools possess, however, as the consensus point spread is set at a tricky (-10 ½).
An Over/Under line of (50) points, on the other hand, is more intriguing. The pick turns into a question of how Rypien has developed in Boise and if his offensive unit can eclipse 30+ points against one of the more stifling defenses in the Group of 5.
If they can find a passing attack, the Troy Trojans could match up nicely against Boise State in crucial categories. Head coach Neal Brown (who navigated last season’s squad to an incredible 11-2 record) has gifted senior WRs to utilize in offensive schemes, including Deondre Douglas and 6’4” Damion Willis.
The Troy offensive line presents the physicality of an average Power-5 level squad as opposed to a better-than-average Sun Belt opponent.
Defense is the Trojan calling card however, and Troy could field a more dangerous unit than ever in this contest. Marcus Jones is a fantastic player at cornerback (as well as a lethal kick returner), but Rypien can’t wait forever for his WRs to break free of Jones – the QB could be pressured by a pass rush that was 7th in the FBS in ’17. Last year’s tilt between the Trojans and Broncos featured 4 sacks of Bronco quarterbacks.
The defensive prowess of the Trojans will be meaningless if they cannot move the ball through the air. More than a solid quarterback is required, but it sure makes things easier against the Broncos to have a reliable QB.
Kaleb Barker was finally named by Brown on Monday afternoon as the starting quarterback this weekend. Barker is dual-threat junior who was put up impressive averages despite receiving limited playing time.
Boise State begins the season ranked 22nd in the AP poll for 2018-19, but Troy is unranked. That means in the eyes of the media, Boise’s squad enters the contest with an important (or at least psychologically important) little number next to their name that Troy fails to possess. Is this the precise time to bet against the masses yet again?
Rypien’s release will surely be quick enough to escape Trojan rushers, but if the Broncos fail to establish a running game, Rypien can possibly be forced into vulnerable situations, which would favor the Trojans to erase Boise State’s #22 AP ranking.
The offensive line of the Broncos returns 3 starters and has the depth to be protected in case any of the starters go down. That bodes well for the Broncos, since like many other talented tailbacks, Alexander Mattison’s performance often rides on how well the unit as a whole functions.
Mattison has not always produced efficiently when under the bright lights against top defenses. He was impressive in the few chances he had against Troy, but the Trojan defense was spread thin and the defensive line was bullied by the Bronco OL. Mattison pulled off a 200+ yard performance against CSU, and then was flustered against Air Force. His numbers from a season-ending series with the Fresno State Bulldogs (whose defense is much like Troy’s in some respects) are abysmal.
Mattison could look like an All-American this weekend, but only if things go as planned for the Broncos. Neal Brown’s team has a knack for destroying plans for opponents.
Boise State enters a ferocious Alabama stadium with over a 50% chance for victory, but it’s likely to be a fierce battle against a fellow Group of 5 goliath.
The moneyline is (+340) for Troy, but a number of (+275) or (+300) would be more reasonable.
Kaleb Barker – whose impressive numbers from 2017 include nearly 200 rushing yards on a mere 20 attempts – could possibly lead the Sun Belt representative to an upset victory over the Broncos in the comfort of Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Take Troy (+340) on the moneyline for this weekend’s upset special.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.