Buffalo-Troy Betting Guide: Can Trojans Best Bulls’ Elite Passing Offense in Dollar General Bowl?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyree Jackson and Swayer Smith
2018 Dollar General Bowl Betting Odds: Buffalo-Troy
- Odds: Buffalo -1
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 22
- Location: Mobile, Ala.
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
>> All odds as of Friday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.
The 2018 Dollar General Bowl will pit two of the most improved Group of 5 teams in the country when Troy and Buffalo meet in the Trojans’ home state.
Buffalo came up just short of the MAC title behind future NFL quarterback Tyree Jackson, while Troy’s offense struggled mightily in its last two games.
Odds Movement for Buffalo-Troy
By Danny Donahue
Troy seems to have attracted both sharp and square bettors alike, as it’s drawing 59% of bets accounting for 78% of money. That backing has dropped this line from +3 to +1.
The betting action on the under has been awfully similar, as it’s fallen from 53.5 to 49.5 behind 56% of bets and 88% of dollars.
Trends to Know for Dollar General Bowl
By John Ewing
Buffalo went 9-4 (against the spread) ATS in the regular season. Bettors shouldn’t expect the Bulls to cover just because they have recently.
Since 2005, teams with a 60% or better ATS win rate have gone 141-166-5 (45.9%) ATS in bowl games.
What Happened to Troy’s Offense?
By Steve Petrella
The Trojans lost quarterback Kaleb Barker in Week 6, paving the way for Sawyer Smith. Their offense averaged at least 6.3 yards per play in three of his first four games as the starter, and Troy’s ground game remained strong.
But in Troy’s final two games — albeit against two of the Sun Belt’s best defenses in Texas State and Appalachian State — the Trojans scored 22 total points and had 443 total yards. In two games!
Special Teams Could Be the Difference
The MAC had some really bad special teams play this season across the board, including Buffalo — which struggled on the often-forgotten about third unit.
It’s easier to hide those issues in a conference filled with teams dealing with similar issues, but those deficiencies get magnified against teams with elite special teams. And Troy certainly fits that mold.
Just take a look at some of the differences between these two teams:
- Troy ranks fifth in net punting (41.83 yards); Buffalo ranks 85th.
- Troy ranks ninth overall in average kick return yardage (25.06 yards); Buffalo ranks 114th.
- Buffalo kicker Adam Mitcheson is just eight of 12 on field goals this year and has missed SEVEN extra points, including a costly one in the MAC Championship. Tyler Sumpter hasn’t been spectacular for Troy, but he’s been solid, connecting on 18 of 24 field-goal attempts and all 39 extra points.
- Buffalo has had an NCAA-worst SEVEN kicks blocked this year; Troy has had zero.
- Amazingly, Buffalo has also had an NCAA-worst three punts blocked; Troy has had zero.
From an S&P+ perspective, Buffalo ranks 124th in the country on special teams. And Troy ranks 11th. That’s a staggering discrepancy, which could ultimately decide which team will win (and cover) in the 2018 Dollar General Bowl.
Who’s More Motivated?
I think both teams are motivated here, so I don’t see an edge. Buffalo is looking for its first ever bowl win (0-2 all-time). The question becomes how well do the Bulls respond to that devastating blown lead in the MAC Championship Game?
While Troy has a much richer bowl pedigree, including wins in each of the past two seasons in bowls (including one at this very bowl), I think the Trojans will be motivated to get to 10 wins in front of a crowd that should be heavily in their favor.
Bet to Watch
I’m keeping this simple here and rolling with the small dog playing in its home state with the better defense and special teams units.
I also think Troy can move the ball through the air against a vulnerable Buffalo pass defense that ranks 119th defending pass explosiveness, especially now that it will have a very healthy receiving unit.
Stuckey’s Pick: Troy +1
By Collin Wilson
Neal Brown is still the coach at Troy as he returns to the Dollar General Bowl after a victory in this spot over another MAC team in 2016. The Trojans packed Ladd-Peoples with 32,000 two years ago and expect to have the support of the crowd in this game, as well.
Troy is very familiar in this venue, highlighted by a 38-17 victory over South Alabama in Week 9.
Statistically both teams defensively cancel out the strength of their opponent offensively. Troy is fourth in rushing explosiveness, but Buffalo ranks 28th against explosiveness on the ground.
Buffalo, led by quarterback Tyree Jackson, is first in the nation in passing downs explosiveness. Troy will be able to contain the air explosiveness of Jackson with a defense that ranks 19th against pass explosiveness.
There are a couple of differences that will have us backing the Trojans in this game. Troy is 11th overall in havoc, and those numbers will be needed against Buffalo, which relies more on the pass than the rush.
Speaking of the rush, Troy is 15th in S&P+ rush defense giving the Trojans an advantage no matter the Buffalo scheme.
We look to back Troy with defensive and special teams advantages, but also take a look at the under. The total has dropped below The Action Network projection of 53 because of how often both teams run the ball.
In passing downs run rate, Buffalo is 17th compared to Troy at sixth, translating to plenty of ground game and clock churning in this contest.
Collin’s Pick: Troy +1