UL Monroe vs Troy Odds, Picks: Can ULM Keep This Close?
Edward Diller/Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Jackson
UL-Monroe vs Troy Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Terry Bowden and his ULM Warhawks take their two-game winning streak to Troy to take on the Sun Belt West leaders.
UL-Monroe has lived near the bottom of the FBS in recent years, and while its defense is still poor, the offense has made some strides this season with quarterback Chandler Rogers, and the Warhawks have won a few close contests. They’re still in the fight for bowl eligibility, as improbable as that may seem.
Troy has had a magical season in Jon Sumrall’s first year at the helm. The offense squeaks out just enough necessary to win — the Trojans were last seen scoring only 10 points on Army’s forgiving defense — and a sturdy defense sets them up to do. The Trojans have won three different ballgames this season in which they only scored one touchdown.
Will these two teams and their proclivity for close contests create another one-score affair? Or should you lay the points with Troy’s solid defense at home?
No one will confuse this for a good offense, but ULM has built some competency. Rogers is the straw that stirs the drink; he has completed 68.9% of his passes for 2,136 yards with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He is mobile, having rushed for 424 yards before removing sack yardage.
Rogers has thrived when throwing to receiver Tyrone Howell, who has been dominant in Sun Belt play. Howell was quiet in September when the Warhawks faced Alabama and Texas, but has been dominant since the calendar turned to October, with the vast majority of his 45 catches, 775 yards, and six scores coming in conference games.
Some of his biggest games have come against the conference’s best secondaries — Texas State, Louisiana and South Alabama. Howell’s breakout has elevated a passing attack that is now 48th in EPA.
The Warhawks’ offense doesn’t create too many opportunities, ranking 111th in Parker Fleming’s ECKEL rate, a measure of how often teams have quality possessions.
But they do capitalize on their opportunities, ranking 35th in FBS in points/per ECKEL. This will be an interesting matchup against a Troy team that is likewise excellent at standing teams up, ranking 20th on defense in points allowed per ECKEL.
ULM’s defense has struggled this season.
The Warhawks don’t create much Havoc, ranking 110th in that metric, nor do they play “bend-don’t-break.”
When their offense reaches scoring opportunities, it will be strength on strength; when Troy creates quality opportunities, It will be weakness on weakness. ULM is 107th in points allowed per ECKEL, and Troy’s offense is 80th in points per ECKEL.
The Warhawks are battling for Bowden. They scored their first win over rival Louisiana since 2017, and have played conference leaders South Alabama and Coastal Carolina to one-score games, and have now won two in a row to get within shouting distance of a bowl game.
Troy’s magical season continued with a 10-9 win over Army last week.
The Trojans struggled to move the ball against one of the worst defenses in FBS, and for the fourth time this year they only scored one touchdown — remarkably, they won three of those games.
A midseason experiment with the well-traveled Jarret Doege at quarterback has ended, as Gunnar Watson has reinforced himself as the starting quarterback. Watson helms an offense that is 64th in EPA/Pass and 91st in EPA/rush.
The rush attack — Kimani Vidal and DK Billingsley are your running backs — is poor, ranking 112th in Success Rate and 124th in explosiveness. This is not a formula for putting away opponents and protecting leads, and has perhaps been part of the reason for Troy’s penchant for one-score games.
Troy’s defense has been strong this season. The Trojans don’t create much Havoc — ranking only 79th in that metric despite a pair of excellent sack-artist edge rushers in TJ Jackson and Richard Jibunor.
What they do is prevent big plays, and force you off the field. The Trojans are eighth in explosive plays surrendered, and 18th in ECKEL rate allowed.
This game is senior night for Troy, and the Trojans will bid farewell to linebacker Carlton Martial, who became the all-time FBS leader in tackles last week. They control their own destiny in the Sun Belt West, and will clinch a spot in the conference title game if they win out.
UL-Monroe vs Troy Matchup Analysis
UL-Monroe vs Troy Betting Pick
There’s no question Troy is the superior team. Despite their at-times anemic offense, the Trojans can rely on their excellent defense to win games and have done so repeatedly.
But they don’t put teams away — their largest margin of victory came against Southern Miss and since-benched quarterback Zack Wilcke, and they needed late scores to get to the final margin of 17.
ULM has shown tons of fight, and plays everyone close.
While it would be stunning if Troy lost this game, I do like ULM to battle, and will take anything at 14.5 points or better.
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