Dollar General Bowl
Ohio Bobcats vs Troy Trojans
Troy was quietly one of the nation’s most-improved teams this year. After a 4-8 debut under coach Neal Brown in 2015, the Trojans finished 9-3 and just missed on claiming a share of the Sun Belt title and a trip to the Dollar General Bowl. At 36 years old, Brown is one of the youngest head coaches at the FBS level and is a rising star to watch over the next couple of years. Troy’s offense led the Sun Belt by averaging 34.2 points per game, with quarterback Brandon Silvers (22 TDs) and running back Jordan Chunn (1,232 yards) leading the way. Silvers and Chunn face a tough Ohio defense, a group that ranks second in the MAC by holding opponents to 22.2 points per game.
The Bobcats ranked near the bottom of the MAC (eighth) in offense. There’s some uncertainty at quarterback after Greg Windham replaced Quinton Maxwell against Western Michigan in the conference title game. Ohio must lean on its defense to knock off the Trojans in the Dollar General Bowl (Enter Contest).
OHIO (8-5, 6-2 MAC)
This is the eighth straight season of bowl eligibility for Ohio under coach Frank Solich. He also guided the Bobcats to Mobile in 2007. The MAC East Division champion missed out on its first conference crown since 1968 but still can reach nine wins for the first time since 2012. It was also the last time Ohio won a bowl game. The Bobcats are 2-7 overall in bowl games.
Since allowing 56 points to Texas State in triple overtime in the season opener, the Bobcats have held every opponent to fewer than 30 points. MAC Defensive Player of the Year Tarell Basham is a big reason for that success. The senior defensive lineman led the conference with 11.5 sacks and is the school’s career leader with 29.5. Senior linebacker Blair Brown had a conference-high 116 tackles (13.5 for loss), and MAC Freshman of the Year Javon Hagan had 50 tackles and led the team with five forced fumbles and three interceptions.
ABOUT TROY (9-3, 6-2 Sun Belt)
Troy led the Sun Belt in scoring, passing and total offense with 49 touchdowns and 5,263 total yards. The Trojans are 2-3 in bowl games and are making their first bowl appearance since 2010. They had defeated the Bobcats 48-21 in the New Orleans Bowl. Troy nearly upset No. 3 Clemson in a 30-24 nail-biter September 10.
The Trojans got as far as 8-1 and became the first Sun Belt team to be ranked in the Top 25 before losing two of their final three games and missing out on their sixth conference title. Despite the slide, it still was a season of major strides for Troy, which improved by five wins in coach Neal Brown’s second season. Brown is tied for the fifth-best turnaround in the nation. Junior running back Jordan Chunn led the resurgence, rushing for 1,232 yards and a conference-best 13 touchdowns.