2017 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl preview

The 2017 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will have teams from the Sun Belt and C-USA conferences squaring off in the Superdome. The North Texas Mean Green and the Troy Trojans will square off in a battle of quality teams from lower end conferences.

Troy Trojans (10-2)

2017 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Preview

Blace Brown (Photo by montgomeryadvertiser.com)

Troy lost two games this season by 11 points each. One loss, at Boise State, was acceptable. The other loss, to South Alabama, raised some eyebrows. The Trojans were able to overcome those two losses to share a conference championship with Appalachian State. Beating LSU in Death Valley was the highlight of the season for Troy and they will be looking to cap off the great season with one more win.

Brandon Silvers is the senior quarterback for Troy. He has thrown for 2,985 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. He does have four games with over 300 passing yards, but for the most part just helps the Trojans move the chains. He spreads the ball out to a lot of receivers, seven of which have over 200 receiving yards. Deondre Douglas is Silvers’ best target with 628 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Jordan Chunn is the leading rusher with 774 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He missed two games this season, which hurt his overall stats. His best game came against LSU, when he rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown. Since then he has slowed down, but he has still managed to average five yards a carry.

The offense is average, but the defense is the reason why this team is so good. The Trojans have the 11th best scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. They specialize in stopping the run and rank 14th in rushing yards allowed. Defensive back Blace Brown helps the turnover margin with his five interceptions.

North Texas Mean Green (9-4)

2017 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Preview

Mason Fine (Photo by ndnsports.com)

North Texas is coming off of a loss to Florida Atlantic in the C-USA Championship Game. Florida Atlantic accounted for two of their losses this season, with the other two coming at the hands of Iowa and SMU. It was a pretty successful season for the Mean Green.

The North Texas offense is good. They rank 20th in points scored with 35.9 points per game. Mason Fine leads the offense from his quarterback position with 3,749 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He ranks ninth in passing yards in the FBS. He’s just a sophomore and has a bright future ahead. The Mean Green have four receivers with over 500 receiving yards, but Jalen Guyton and Michael Lawrence lead the way with over 700 receiving yards. Guyton has nine touchdowns on the season as well.

There is some balance to the North Texas offense. Their leading running back, Jeffery Wilson, has 1,215 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He helps set up the passing game with his 6.5 yards per carry. He has been injured and missed the last two games, but Nic Smith has been able to fill in well for Wilson. They’ll be in good hands no matter who is in the backfield come game time.

The Mean Green defense leaves a lot to be desired. They allow 33.8 points per game, which is one of the highest amount of points allowed in the country. Their defense allows 208 rushing yards and 223 passing yards per game. They will need someone to step up in this game to help shut down Troy.

Prediction

Troy has proven they can play with the best, even if they can slip up at times. Jordan Chunn will have a big game against a bad rush defense, which will help the Trojans control the clock. With their defense fresh, North Texas won’t be able to be as effective as usual. The Trojans will win the game because of their defense the turnovers they force.

Final score: Troy Trojans 27 North Texas Mean Green 20

 

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2016 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview

The Army West Point Black Knights beat their rival Navy and now find themselves in a rematch against North Texas in the 2016 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Army West Point Black Knights

The Black Knights started the season of hot with three straight wins and then finished the season with two wins to get to 7-5. They have quality wins over Temple, Wake Forest and Navy. Their bad losses are to Notre Dame, Buffalo and Duke.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Ahmad Bradshaw (Photo courtesy: armytimes.com)

 

Army runs the triple option, which is led by quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. He isn’t the greatest thrower, with four touchdowns and nine interceptions, so it his his job to make sure the team doesn’t fall behind, forcing him to throw. He is the second leading rusher on the team with 697 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

If Army does have to throw the ball, it will most likely go to someone with the last name of Poe. Edgar Poe leads the team with 321 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. Christian Poe is second on the team with 133 receiving yards, but is yet to score a touchdown.

A lot of ball carriers get a chance in the triple option offense, but Andy Davidson has been the most effective for the Black Knights. He has rushed for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jordan Asbery has made the most of his 50 carries on the season with a 7.7 yards per rush average.

Army has one of the best run defenses in the country, allowing 123 yards per game. The good news is their pass defense is even better, giving up just 145 passing yards per game, which is good enough for fourth in the country.

Linebacker Andrew King has been a leader on the defense. He has had four games of over ten tackles. In addition to tackles he has added 5 sacks and a forced fumble.

North Texas Mean Green

North Texas finished the season at 5-7, but made it into a bowl game because of their good academic progress rate. They have two good wins, one against this Army team and one against Southern Mississippi. Their bad losses were suffered to UTEP and SMU.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Alec Morris

Mason Fine had started most of the season, but then missed the last two games of the season with an injury. That means graduate transfer Alec Morris, from Alabama, will get the start. On the season he has six touchdowns and six interceptions for 822 yards. The coaching staff elected to go with Morris because of how well he has practiced.

North Texas has four receivers with over 300 yards receiving, but Thaddeous Thompson has been the best. He has 524 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns.

The Mean Green have two running backs that have gotten a lot of carries. Jeffrey Wilson has 855 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Will Ivery has helped out with 490 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Run defense is not the forte of North Texas, as they allow 220 rushing yards per game, which can be an issue in this game. Their pass defense allows just 213 yards through the air, but Army isn’t likely to throw the ball in this game after throwing four interceptions in the first game.

Sophomore defensive back Nate Brooks has four interceptions on the season, one of which came against Army. If Army decides to throw he should shut them down. Kishawn McClain has 62 solo tackles on the season and is a player that plays sideline to sideline.

Prediction

Army will want revenge in this game. The Black Knights will protect the football and run all over North Texas. The defense may give up some yards through the air, but Army will be able to hang on for the win.

 

Army West Point Black Knights 34 North Texas Mean Green 26

 

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