CFN Bowl Analysis ... N.
Troy 48 ... Ohio 21
Every once in a while in a bowl game the team that has an offense simply destroys the team that doesn't.
I picked Troy to win and cover, but I'll freely admit that I blew the pick because I thought it would be a close game. I thought Ohio would generate some semblance of an attack against a miserable Troy D. After all, the Bobcat offense rocked at times down the stretch and looked far better than the overall stats. But Troy's offense hummed from the start, Ohio's 105th ranked passing attack couldn't pick up the slack, and the result was a blowout in a bad bowl game.
What I didn't see coming was the awful play from the Ohio defense. Troy was going to get yards and it was going to move the ball, but time and again this year the Bobcats played well when they had to. They didn't have much of a pass rush, and didn't against the Trojans, but the run defense was great and the secondary was solid. Not in New Orleans.
The one thing Ohio couldn't do was fall behind big early, and it fell behind big early. Bobcat QB Boo Jackson, who missed time with academic issues before the bowl, wasn't bad, but this isn't a team equipped to get into shootouts. Troy had the firepower, Ohio couldn't control the clock with its running attack, and America went to bed at halftime.
- The blowout should've been foreseeable. Ohio's offense went absolutely
nowhere in a must-win regular season finale against Kent State, mainly
because the Bobcat line couldn't handle the Golden Flash pass rush.
Troy's defense might stink, but it can get into the backfield. Troy
sacks: 5. Ohio sacks: 0. Thanks for playing.
- Where was the Ohio running game? The offensive line was supposed to shove around a defensive front that got pushed by everyone. The whole point of the Bobcat team is to be able to take momentum away by running, it couldn't do it, and then things got out of hand.
- That Troy's DuJuan Harris – a nice back, by the way – ran for 105 yards and Ohio ran for 99 is why this was a blowout.
- Not everything clicked for Troy. Considering Jerrel Jernigan is such a playmaker, the Trojans were strangely awful this year on kickoff returns. Against the Bobcats, Troy averaged a pathetic 16 yards per try.
So how does a kid like Troy QB Corey Robinson get out of Paducah, KY without any serious offers from bigger programs anyway?
Robinson threw for a million yards in high school, but at just around 6-0, his size scared off schools from the Big Ten, SEC, and Big East. Too bad for them, but bully for the Trojans. They found themselves a young quarterback to build around for the next three seasons. While I'll admit I've watched Robinson infrequently this season, I loved what I saw in New Orleans tonight. The kid has a compact delivery, releasing the ball with little wasted motion and a degree of confidence that his teammates pick up on. He snaps off throws, getting the RPMs of a much bigger hurler. He threw four touchdown passes without a pick against a pretty good Ohio D, giving him 28 scoring strikes in his first year. If his height is going to become an impediment to success, it won't happen until NFL scouts put a tape measure on him in 2014.
- How do you keep doing it, Coach Blakeney? How do you keep attracting major talents, such as DE Jonathan Massaquoi, to Troy, Ala.? No. 94 is still young, but he has the tenacity and long arms to play on Sundays in a few years.
- If it hasn't happened already, Troy is going to out grow the Sun Belt Conference and get scooped up by someone, like Conference USA. Year after year, it coaches kids up, gets to the postseason, and quietly puts out a terrific brand of football.
By Matt Zemek
Earlier on Saturday, Northern Illinois bounced back and struck a blow for the Mid-American Conference by erasing the memory of a regular-season-ending loss. In Saturday's bowl nightcap, Ohio intended to do the same thing after gacking in its own season finale against Kent State on Nov. 26. The Bobcats led the way in the MAC East for more than 85 percent of their journey, only to falter on the last lap of their long-distance run through Autumn. Ohio's opponent, the Troy Trojans, certainly had reason to be motivated in their own right, but this game was supposed to mean more for the athletes from the Athens of the Midwest. Objectively speaking, Ohio – winless in bowl games entering this contest – needed a New Orleans Bowl scalp more than Troy. The second-place team in the Sun Belt (according to the methods used by the Weekly Affirmation's Conference Championship Audit) certainly wanted to put the capper on a mildly disappointing 7-5 season, but the focal point of this Crescent City clash was the bunch of Bobcats who were sent to Nawlins on a business trip, not a pleasure cruise.
Clearly, Ohio didn't get the memo.
Troy played this game faster and harder, with more physicality and wakefulness. The Trojans were comprehensively more attuned and excited, more athletic and interested. Ohio's secondary didn't show up, and the Bobcats' offensive front also proved to be AWOL. Frank Solich has done a generally solid job in Athens, Ohio, but until his team – much like Fresno State – shows up in a postseason tilt, the body of Bobcat achievement will be lacking to a certain degree.
--It just has to be asked: Where was this Troy team against Florida International (at home)? The South Carolina loss – a 69-24 drubbing – was its own kind of face-plant, but the 52-35 setback to FIU, which deprived this team of a rightful claim to first place in the Sun Belt, will linger at least a little bit an offseason that's now become much more emotionally manageable for the Trojans. Coach Larry Blakeney has to love the way his own ballclub responded to this situation in New Orleans; in just 10 seasons, Troy has won two bowl games (two more than Ohio has in 49 seasons of competition). However, the flop versus Florida International only becomes that much more eye-popping in the wake of this awesome exhibition of skill and speed against Ohio.
If there's a place in the NFL for Darren Sproles and (in olden days) the likes of a James Brooks, there has to be a roster slot waiting for Troy's Jerrel Jernigan. The skill-position stud played Bill Raftery football against Ohio, leaving a lot of lingerie on the deck against the Bobcats' secondary. Sure, Ohio's back line of defense isn't outstanding, but Jernigan backed up one great bowl performance – in the (January) 2010 GMAC Bowl – with another masterpiece 11.5 months later. A Sun Belt-to-the-NFL odyssey is a pleasing thing to contemplate not just for Jernigan, Blakeney, and the rest of the Troy football family, but for anyone who likes to see the smaller FBS conferences bring a big-league level of ability to a major stage.