Tuesday Night Football: Troy at Florida Atlantic Preview
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 10/06/2008
The college football week gets off to an early start this week with a Tuesday night Sun Belt Conference tilt between Troy and Florida Atlantic. The oddsmakers have set the opening line at Troy -3.5 with a total of 50.5.
After a breakout year last season where Florida Atlantic reached a bowl and won it for the first time in program history, the Owls have gotten off to a disappointing 1-4 start including a heartbreaker on national television last week at Middle Tennessee State where they lost on a last second Hail Mary.
It was the same Middle Tennessee State team that Troy defeated 31-17 to open the season. After a Division I-AA game Troy lost two games to BCS conference teams, Ohio State and Oklahoma State the last two weeks. With seven returning starters on offense and defense Troy was expected to compete for the Sun Belt title this year. As was Florida Atlantic, the defending champions who returned a total of 18 starters. The teams have met six times but three of those meetings occurred when the Owls, under legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger, were a Division I-AA team. Since its arrival in the Sun Belt, FAU is 1-2 SU and ATS against Troy with all three games going over the total.
The game will be played at Florida Atlantic in Lockhart Stadium on natural grass. Troy plays its home games on turf but they managed to go 8-2 ATS last season on games played on grass. Last season the Owls won a 38-32 shootout as 15-point underdogs.
Troy enters the game with the nation's 21st-ranked offense, averaging over 441 yards a game. Defensively they hold teams to 331 yards per game, 46th best in the nation. The Owls have put up abysmal defensive numbers, allowing 417 yards per game and 31 points per game. All of their defensive rankings are 90th or worst. Offensively they have only been able to muster 15 points per game, third worst in college football. Troy has been able to post impressive statistics while playing three road games including contests against Ohio State, who they remained competitive with until the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma State.
Trojan backers have enjoyed profits the last two seasons. Troy went 8-3 against the number last season and 7-5 ATS in 2006. The Owls enter the game on a 16-9 run ATS dating back to two seasons ago. Both teams have performed phenomenal against the number in conference action. Both Troy and FAU are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 conference games.
Another major trend involved in this game is Troy's ability to cover the number when they play teams with losing records. They have covered seven of the last eight point spreads when playing a team that has a losing record, like 1-4 Florida Atlantic. As game time approaches expect the line to climb towards for or more as the public continues to back Troy.
The big question for Florida Atlantic is how they will be able to bounce back after a tough loss against Middle Tennessee State. The Owls dominated most of the game and had a 13-0 lead in the fourth quarter before allowing a two-touchdown rally late in the game to lose, 14-13. Tuesday night figures to be a must win for FAU if they have any hope of competing in the Sun Belt. The Owls have had similar losses the past three seasons and all three times they lost a game by a field goal or less they followed it up with an ATS loss.