Troy Trojans (4-3) @ Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-1) – Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina
Friday October 29th – 12.30am (UK)
Coastal Carolina 18 point favourites at the time of writing
Is it possible that Coastal Carolina have been one of the most overrated teams so far in 2021? The Chanticleers sit at 6-1, dropping their first game of the season to App State last week. Some would argue that one loss through seven weeks is a very strong record for a team of Coastal’s stature, and they’d be right – but the Mountaineers were also the first major threat they’ve faced all season.
Despite the loss, Jamey Chadwell’s team is still ranked 24th in this week’s AP Poll, but when you look at the teams around them in the rankings, Penn State, Iowa State, BYU – does anyone really think that this team is in the same ballpark? Hmm.
They’ll have the chance to answer their critics this week against a Troy team that hasn’t looked too bad over the last couple of weeks. The Trojans have won back to back three point games against Texas State and Georgia Southern to take their record above .500.
Whilst no-one is seriously tipping Troy to pull off the upset in this one, it’ll be interesting to see how the Chanticleers deal with the Trojans run threat. In recent weeks both Jamontez Woods and Kimani Vidal have featured heavily in support of QB, Gunnar Watson. Coastal have allowed an average of 143 yards per game to opposition rushing attacks, if Troy can push that towards the 200 mark then this might be tighter than the bookies are predicting.
In their loss last week the Chanticleers leaned heavily on the passing game, with their Running Backs looking largely ineffective. They’ll be seeking to balance that this week, drawing Troy into the box before allowing Grayson McCall to target Isaiah Likely, Jayvon Heiligh and Kameron Brown. McCall remains the standout player on the roster, completing 77% of his passes and a 15-1 TD-INT record through seven games.
Despite back to back wins, and the slight doubt surrounding Coastal’s quality, there’s no doubt that Troy are facing an up-hill battle to get anything out of this game. With the 99th ranked offense in the country, the Trojans simply don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Chanticleers. Even so, the 18 point line feels slightly rich, so those who like a bet may want to consider a slightly lower handicap if putting money on the Carolina team in this one.
South Florida Bulls (2-5) @ East Carolina Pirates (3-4) – Dowdy Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina
Friday October 29th – 12.30am (UK)
East Carolina 10 point favourite at the time of writing
This is a game that would be described as ‘one for the purists’ if it were a Tuesday night British football match. Both South Florida and East Carolina come into the game with losing records, but the Pirates have probably played better football to date.
In their last two games East Carolina have suffered one score defeats to high flying Houston and the always dangerous UCF. They’ve got a well respected AAC signal caller in Holton Ahlers and a potential draftable talent in Linebacker, Bruce Bivens.
However, the star of the show is Running Back, Keaton Mitchell, who has racked up 677 yards and four scores on 88 carries, whilst adding another 157 yards from 10 catches in the passing game this season. Against the 114th run defense in the nation, Mitchell will find himself featured early and often.
If the Pirates are to emerge with the win in this one they’ll need to shut down Jaren Mangham and Kelly Joiner – the dynamic South Florida RB duo. Alongside Bivens, East Carolina can rely on redshirt freshman Immanuel Hickman to get into the backfield and stop the run. In his first season as a full time starter, the 6’3” former three star recruit has fast become a key component of Blake Harrell’s defense and has a bright future ahead of him.
Their opponents are a team in transition, as recently as 2017 the South Florida Bulls were a 10-2 team, but since then they’ve gradually gone downhill. Now, in Jeff Scott’s second year as Head Coach, the Tampa based team has got to start improving or heads could roll and the Bulls would find themselves on their fourth Head Coach since 2016.
The aforementioned rushing attack is their best chance in this one, but they’re desperately in need of help from starting signal-caller, Timmy McClain. As a freshman starter, McClain has thrown for 1000 yards and two scores through his first seven games, adding 217 yards on the ground. Clearly he’s still got a lot to learn, but if South Florida are to start picking up wins he simply needs to be more of a threat to opposition secondaries.
Last time out the Bulls managed to run all over Temple, but making it two wins in a row feels unlikely against a pretty solid East Carolina team. If you’re staying up to sample some niche action in the early hours of Friday morning then you’ll be hoping that the 52 point line is well and truly smashed through, sadly that might be wishful thinking.
By Andy Moore – @ajmoore21