Tuesday Night Football Picks: Troy Trojans at Florida International Golden Panthers

Troy Trojans at Florida International Golden Panthers
FIU Stadium – Miami, Florida
Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Florida International -6 1/2
Current Line: Florida International -6 1/2
Opening Line: 54 1/2
Current Line: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: FIU -275 / Troy +235
Current Money Line: FIU -275 / Troy +235

The Troy Trojans are 6.5 point underdogs Tuesday night at Florida International in Sun Belt action. Both teams are 1-2 in conference.

With the World Series on a travel day and NHL Hockey as the only sports events on Tuesday, this Sun Belt college football game between the 2-4 Troy Trojans and the 4-3 Florida International Golden Panthers will get much more attention than it normally would if it were scheduled on a regular college football Saturday. This national exposure is why the schools and the Sun Belt Conference agree to schedule games on a Tuesday night. Well, that and the large sum of money ESPN is paying them to nationally televise this game.

Both Troy and Florida International are 1-2 in conference play. Troy is coached by Larry Blakeney, and has losses at Clemson 43-19, Arkansas 38-28, and Lousiana-Lafayette 31-17 along with a home loss to Louisiana-Monroe two weeks ago 38-10. Clemson and Arkansas are both ranked in the top 10 in the BCS standings, and ULL is one of the conference front runners along with Arkansas St and surprising Western Kentucky. ULM is the only bad loss. The Trojans have home wins over Middle Tennessee 38-35 and UAB 24-23. FIU is coached by Mario Cristobal. The Panthers started off the season 3-0 but have lost 3 of their last 4 since. FIU has home wins over North Texas 41-16, and Central Florida 17-10, along with road wins at Louisville 24-17 and Akron 27-17. The Panthers have home losses at ULL 36-31 and Duke 31-27 and last week at Arkansas St 34-16. Troy leads the series 6-1 all time but last year FIU won 52-35 in Troy.

Troy was a 7 point favorite two weeks ago on the college football betting line at home against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The game was tied at 3 at halftime. The Trojans scored a touchdown to take a 10-3 lead early in the third quarter but were outscored 35-0 from that point on. ULM pulled off the upset 38-10. It was a miserable day on offense for the Trojans as they had 140 total yards, including -14 rushing yards, and just 9 first downs. Troy had as many turnovers, 3, as third and fourth down conversions. Troy quarterback Corey Robinson had been averaging 331 passing yards a game coming into the contest, but was 19/34 for 129 yards and 2 interceptions in the rout. ULM scored a safety in the fourth quarter. The Warhawks had 523 total yards, including 248 rushing yards. ULM had 2 turnovers of their own.

Troy averages 401.3 total yards a game including 298.7 passing yards which is #16 in the country game. The rushing game, however, is one of the nation’s worst averaging 102.7 yards per game. The Trojans score 22.7 points per game. troy has 14 turnovers and has allowed 10 sacks this season. The Trojans are 42/114 on third and fourth down conversions, and 15/21 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns. Troy has one of the worst defenses in the country giving up 460.8 yards and 34.7 points a game. The Trojans give up 287.5 passing yards and 173.3 rushing yards a game. Troy has forced 10 sacks and 10 turnovers this season. Trojan opponents are 48/114 on third and fourth down conversions, and 17/19 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. Troy averages just under 8 penalties a game for 60 yards. Troy has 2 defensive touchdowns this season.

Robinson is 171/279 passing for 1,779 yards, with 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 20 carries for 11 yards. Running back Shawn Southward has 58 carries, 239 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 120 yards. D.J. Taylor has 38 carries, 195 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 8 carries for 50 yards. Chris Anderson has 43 carries, 177 yards, and a touchdown along with 10 catches for 68 yards. Eight Trojan receivers have at least 10 catches this season. Eric Thomas has 32 receptions 435 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Corey Johnson has 26 catches, 200 yards, and no touchdowns. Juquon Robinson and Justin Albert also get significant targets. Kicker Michael Taylor is 16/17 on extra points and 6/9 on field goals with a long of 48 yards.

Last Tuesday, Florida International traveled to Arkansas St as a 3.5 point underdog. The game was tied at halftime 6-6, but the Panthers were outscored 28-10 in the second half. Arkansas St won 34-16 to easily cover the point spread. FIU was up 16-13 at the end of the third quarter but ASU scored 21 points in the  fourth quarter. The Panthers had 289 total yards including just 66 rushing yards and 16 first downs. FIU had 11 penalties and 2 turnovers. Arkansas St had 385 total yards including 238 rushing yards. The red Wolves had 7 penalties and a turnover.

Florida International is averaging 389.6 yards a game including 245 passing yards and 144.6 rushing yards. The Panthers are scoring 26.1 points a game. The Panthers have 8 turnovers and have allowed 10 sacks this season. The Panthers are 38/103 on third and fourth down conversions, and 23/26 scoring in the red zone with 12 touchdowns. FIU allows 358.3 total yards a game including 231.3 passing yards and 127 rushing yards. The Panthers are only allowing 23 points a game. FIU has forced 8 turnovers and 19 sacks this season. Panther opponents are 47/120 on third and fourth down conversions, and 14/18 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns. FIU is averaging just over 7 penalties for 63 yards. The Panthers have 2 defensive touchdowns last year.

FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll is 120/189 passing for 1,455 yards, 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Back-up Jake Medlock has also taken a handful of snaps. He doesn’t have a touchdown pass but he did throw an interception in 28 attempts, and has a rushing touchdown this season. Running back Kedrick  Rhodes has 124 carries, 590 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 102 yards. Darriet Perry has 79 carries, 330 yards, and 5 touchdowns, and 4 catches for 43 yards. Receiver T.Y.  Hilton has 43 catches, 738 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 8 carries for 82 yards. He also returns kicks and punts and has over 1,000 all purpose yards so far this season. Wayne Times has 38 catches, 361 yards and a touchdown. Times also returns kicks and punts for the Panthers. Back-up receivers Jacob Younger and  Rockey Vann are both questionable but neither has more than 8 catches this season. Kicker Jack Griffin is 21/21 on extra points and 12/15 on field goals with a long of 46 yards.

FIU is 3-4 against the spread this season and the total is 2-4-1 in those games. Troy is 1-5 ATS and the total is 3-3 this season. The last two games have gone over in this series. The Panthers are 2-10 ATS in October games, 2-6 as a home favorite, 1-4-1 as a favorite, 1-4 at home against teams with losing road records, 0-6-1 following a straight up loss, 0-3-1 following a game where they failed to cover, 0-4 overall, and on turf. Troy is 5-0 ATS in Tuesday games, 4-0 as an underdog of 3.5 and 10 points, 5-2 as road underdogs of between 3.5 and 10 points, 2-5 on the road, 2-6 following a straight up loss, 2-7 following a failure to cover, and in conference games, 0-5 in October games, and 0-4 overall.

These two teams were predicted to compete for the Sun Belt title in the pre-season media and coaches’ polls. However, both have underachieved. Both teams have lost 4 straight ATS, so something has to give. I do like FIU playing at home, but I am not sure they are a touchdown better than Troy.

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