Troy Trojans vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Date and Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 3 p.m. ET
Location: Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
Opening College Football Odds: Arkansas State -2
Troy vs. Arkansas State TV Coverage: ESPN3
It's easy to remember that this Troy team is the same one that beat LSU earlier this season at Tiger Stadium. At 9-2 with that win in the Bayou, the Trojans would have hoped to at least get a little bit of consideration for the New Year's Six.
Instead, Troy lost the next week to South Alabama and blew its chance.
The Trojans haven't lost since that point to keep their hopes alive of winning the Sun Belt, but they really haven't been challenged either. Only a road game at Georgia State was a game that featured a single-digit spread at the top college football sportsbooks, and the Trojans have merely done what was expected of them.
Arkansas State had some near-misses this year, too. The team also lost to South Alabama in a close call, but its 43-36 loss at Nebraska to kick off the season was the biggest sin of all. It would have been a massive victory for the status of the Sun Belt in general, though in the grand scheme of things, this is the only game of the season that means anything.
Whichever team is able to get into a bit of a passing rhythm is the one most likely to win this game.
Last week, both Brandon Silvers and Justin Hansen were on absolute fire. Hansen threw for a school-record 520 yards against Louisiana Monroe while Silvers was good for 380 versus Texas State.
That said, both teams are up against significantly better secondaries this week and should be thoroughly challenged.
The Trojans have been strong all season on defense at 318.1 yards per game and 16.8 points per game allowed. Arkansas State is second in the Sun Belt in basically every defensive category to Troy, allowing 331.3 yards and 24.2 points per game.
Keep in mind, too, that this Arkansas State really spreads the ball around. No one is going to finish this season with even 750 receiving yards, but there's a chance that seven men all have at least 300 yards, a tremendous feat in and of itself.
Troy vs. Arkansas State Free Picks
The easy play to make is Troy, but we think the oddsmakers have gotten this one right by asking so little of Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have been a lot more proficient throwing the football in recent weeks, and Hansen actually has a legitimate professional prospect in the future.
Hansen might have been a wreck in a 35-3 loss when these two teams met last November, but it's not like Silvers was any better, going 20-for-39 for 207 yards and two interceptions.
If Hansen can merely avoid beating himself, the Red Wolves are going to be in good shape in this game. They've won eight straight home games since getting beaten by Central Arkansas at home last season, and their last home loss in a Sun Belt game came way back in 2014 against Appalachian State.
For as good as Troy has been, this betting line is just too strange to ignore. If it looks like a fish and smells like a fish, it must be fishy. We aren't taking the bait. We'll take the Red Wolves.
College Football ATS Pick: Arkansas State -2 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Arkansas State 33, Troy 28