The third of four bowl games to be played on Dec. 22 is the Dollar General Bowl. This contest, which kicks off at 7:00 pm ET, will be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL. This game features the Troy Trojans (9-3,1st in Sun Belt – East) vs the Buffalo Bulls (10-3, 1st MAC – East). Our 2018 Dollar General Bowl preview and free pick has the Bulls -1.5 or 2.0 and the over/under at 50.5 or 51.0.
The Bulls started the season with four straight wins. They then lost a big game to Army 42-13. Buffalo then scored five more wins before suffering their second loss. That was 52-17 to Ohio. The Bulls won their final game of the regular season, as they beat Bowling Green 44-14. The team met Northern Illinois for the MAC crown. The Huskies beat the Bulls in a close one, 30-29.
The Trojans sprinkled three losses throughout the season. In the first game of the season, #22 Boise State beat Troy 66-20. They then ran off five straight wins before losing to Liberty 22-16. It was then four more wins for the Trojans until the final game of the season. In that contest, where they played Appalachian State, Troy lost 21-10. That loss kept the Trojans from going to the Sun Belt championship game. Take a look at our 2018 Dollar General Bowl preview to get the scoop on this game.
Buffalo – Analysis
The Bulls averaged 34.8 PPG this season. They averaged 195.8 YPG on the ground and 221.6 YPG in the air. QB Tyree Jackson (55.1 COMP%, 27 TDs, 11 INTs) is not as accurate as one would like. Along with his passing TDs, he scored seven times rushing. Jackson will be looking to connect with WRs Anthony Johnson (52 REC, 18.2 YPC, 11 TDS) and K.J. Osborn (49 REC, 17.0 YPC, 6 TDs). The Bulls feature two quality running backs, Jaret Patterson (168 ATT, 946 YDs, 5.6 YPA, 13 TDs) and Kevin Marks (170 ATT, 808 YDs, 4.7 YPA, 12 TDs). They have the potential to rip off a lot of yards.
Buffalo has kept teams to 24.7 PPG, making them +10.1 in PF/PA. They’ve given up just 184.5 YPG in passing. Problematic is the 165.3 YPG they have allowed in rushing. Buffalo has accumulated over 70 TFL, 35 sacks, and 13 INTs. They have also defended 41 passes, and forced 15 fumbles. Corner Cameron Lewis with three picks and six passes defended and DE Charles Harris with 7.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks are major forces on defense.
Troy – Analysis
This season, the Trojans scored on average 29.8 PPG. They passed for 206.6 YPG and rushed for 179.2 YPG. Although Troy started the season with alternating quarterbacks, for the second half of the year, they’ve gone with sophomore Sawyer Smith (61.1 COMP%, 10 TDs, 6 INTs). But that’s not because Smith outperformed junior signal caller Kaleb Barker. It’s due to the fact that Barker suffered a season-ending knee injury against Georgia State. If anything, Barker’s numbers as a passer and rusher were a little better than Smith’s. WRs Damion Willis and Deondre Douglas are the team’s go-to pass catchers. Willis has 43 catches with eight for scores as he’s averaged 18.0 YPC. Douglas, who’s averaging 9.9 YPC, has grabbed 44 passes and scored seven times. A special note, for undisclosed reasons, Willis is questionable for the game. B.J. Smith is Troy’s main running back with 199 carries, 1,093 yards, and a dozen TDs.
Troy allowed opponents 21.2 PPG. That makes them +8.6 in PF/PA. Opponents passed for 214.7 YPG and rushed for 130.9 YPG. The defense posted 89 TFL, 34 sacks, and 16 picks. LB Hunter Reese (14.5 TFL, 7.5 SCKs) offers consistent quality play, while safety Cedarius Rookard, with four interceptions, is a top pass defender. Our 2018 Dollar General Bowl preview finds that they are both fine defenders.
Five Keys to the Game
- Bulls will run, can Trojan run D stop them?
- Troy has questions on offense at QB and WR
- Trojan ground attack is sound
- Game may turn on weak Buffalo rushing defense
- Bulls QB Jackson needs to play consistently
Our 2018 Dollar General Bowl Preview – Pick
This is a tight call. First, our 2018 Dollar General Bowl preview and picks is going with the over 50.5. As far as the spread goes, we like the Bulls at -1.5. We think that Buffalo will outlast Troy in this one. For information and free picks and all bowls, please see our bowl schedule page.