Troy Trojans (7-5, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 6-2 MAC)
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
December 18 - 9:00 pm - ESPN
New Orleans, LA
$325,000 payout per team
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the New Orleans Bowl, calling its namesake home since 2001 (with the exception of 2005, when the game was moved to Lafayette, LA due to Hurricane Katrina). Troy has played in this bowl once before, winning in 2006 41-17 over Rice. Unfortunately, that is Troy's only FBS bowl win, having lost their other three bowl appearances. Conversely, Ohio has not won a bowl, going 0-4 in their bowls since 1962. Last year the Bobcats lost 21-17 to Marshall in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
These two teams have never faced each other, so each will be anxious to get on the field and see what the other is capable of. Troy is led by Larry Blakeney, who has been with the Trojans for 20 years now, amassing a record of 160-82-1. Ohio head coach Frank Solich has been with the Bobcats since 2005, going 40-35 in his six years at the helm.
Troy's 6-2 Sun Belt record was tied with Florida International for the conference best, but due to their head to head loss to FIU, the Trojans finished in second place. Similarly, Ohio went 6-2 in the MAC, good for second place in the East Division behind MAC champion Miami (Ohio)
- Analysis for SBN Pittsburgh by Jeff Junstrom
SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION - Ohio 24, Troy 14
Aaron - Ohio
Anson - Troy
Jeff - Ohio
The Trojans have won at least a share of the Sun Belt title for the fifth straight season. They will be playing in New Orleans for the third time in five seasons. This is also their fifth bowl appearance in the past seven years. This is the first bowl meeting between the schools. Ohio is making its second straight bowl appearance, but is 0-4 all-time in bowl games. -- Andrea Adelson
Troy and Central Michigan played one of the best games of the 2009-2010 bowl season, but Ohio's offense isn't the CMU attack of last year. The Bobcats play great run defense and have an efficient offense, while Troy doesn't play defense and has good, explosive pop. It'll be a better game than most of the bowls, but it won't get any attention.
The MAC and Sun Belt conferences look to settle the score once and for all in New Orleans on Dec. 18. In the first day of bowls, the Troy Trojans and Ohio Bobcats will square-off in the New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome. The Trojans finished tied with FIU atop the Sun Belt standings while Ohio finished second in the MAC's Eastern division.
Inconsistent may be the best world to describe Troy. The Trojans hung with Oklahoma State early in the season, falling to the Cowboys, 41-38. Against another top-flight opponent, Troy went down without a fight, dropping a game against South Carolina, 69-24. Due to some fancy Sun Belt tie-breakers that don't actually exist, Troy shared the title with FIU despite being blown out by the Golden Panthers, 52-35.
On the other side of the field, Ohio brings an 8-4 record to the table, including a 6-2 mark in the MAC. The Bobcats opened the season with a win over the fighting Wofford Terriers before dropping the next three, including a 42-7 loss to Ohio State. The ship was righted and wins came rolling in as the Bobcats rolled through the MAC. It wasn't until the final game of the regular season that Ohio lost again, stumbling on the road against Kent State.
Mid-major football at its finest in New Orleans on the first day of bowl season? Count me in.