Sun Belt Fearless Picks - Troy-UAB & more
Posted Aug 30, 2012

Week 1 CFN Fearless Predictions -- Troy at UAB & more

2012 Fearless Predictions 

Sun Belt Week 1 - Part 2

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Fearless Predictions
- Arkansas State at Oregon & more
- Troy at UAB & more
- FIU at Duke & more

Troy (0-0) at UAB (0-0) Sept. 1, 12:00

Here's The Deal: Troy is pining for a fast start after coming off its worst year since 1982. The perennial Sun Belt champs have endured a grueling offseason, one that it hopes will pay dividends in the opener. UAB is set to kick off the Garrick McGee era in Birmingham. The Blazers last authored a winning season in 2004, and are looking for McGee to initiate a fresh start.

Why Troy Might Win: QB Corey Robinson is a microcosm for a Trojans team looking to put 2011 as far in the rear view mirror as possible. With help from a deep, Eric Thomas-led receiving corps, Robinson will have few problems solving an awful UAB defense.

Why UAB Might Win: The Trojans faltered last year in large part because of the collapse of the D. The Blazers boast enough potential at the skill positions to keep Troy reeling. Jonathan Perry is an exciting dual-threat behind center who'll be bolstered by athletic receivers Patrick Hearn, Jackie Williams and Nick Adams.

What To Watch Out For: The play of the UAB O-line. The Blazers are breaking in four new starters up front, a major concern with Troy coming to town. The Trojans, who like to attack, will get after it with DE Tony Davis and Bandit Jacoby Thomas, a pair of seniors who'll keep Perry from setting his feet.

What Will Happen: Troy spent the past six months working hard on rebounding from 2011. UAB, on the other hand, was busy adapting to a new system and a new staff. It'll show in the opener, with Robinson tossing two scoring strikes in a comfortable road win.

CFN Prediction: Troy 30 … UAB 17
Line: Troy -6; O/U: 62.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 – Married To Jonas) 1

UTSA (0-0) vs. South Alabama (0-0)
August 30, 7:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal: It's a brand new WAC team in its first year in the FBS going against a brand new Sun Belt team in its first year in the FBS in a showdown. Get that? South Alabama went 6-4 last season as an FCS independent, and now it's renting space for a year in the Sun Belt – even though it's not eligible for the conference title – before looking to be a key part of the league's puzzle. Head coach Joey Jones has a loaded defense that finished 16th last year at the lower level and welcomes back nine starters. USA is experienced, but UTSA – who'll be off to Conference USA next year - gets everyone back returning 11 starters on O and ten on D. There's plenty of excitement for both programs in their first seasons after the big move, and each will be looking at this as a winnable opener.

Why UTSA Might Win: The offensive line should be able to handle the Jaguar defensive front. USA was terrific against the run last season and should be just as strong at times, but it didn't get into the backfield and it's going to have a problem against a veteran Roadrunner front five that gets all five starters back and should be terrific in the interior. This is a YOUNG UTSA line that started four freshmen last season, and now it should be a strength.

Why South Alabama Might Win: The Jaguars win on defense, but the offense could be just good enough to simply outscore a still-emerging UTSA attack. It was a young USA backfield that took its lumps last season, but quarterback C.J. Bennett and former Georgia running back Demetre Baker should be able to get the ground game working. With most of the key receivers returning, there should be decent balance for an offense that's better than UTSA's.

What To Watch Out For: USA is great defensively, but UTSA's stars are at linebacker. 6-3, 225-pound junior Steven Kurfehs was the starter in the middle for most of last year, missing time with a knee injury before ending the season suspended, finishing third on the team with 51 tackles with a sack, two picks, and nine tackles for loss. Extremely active, he's all around the ball and he's a tackling machine in the middle. For the Jaguars, the star of the D is Jack Johnson, who came up with a team-best 83 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Built to hold things down against the run at 6-1 and 230 pounds, he's an active veteran who started out his career at Virginia Tech where he made 55 tackles in 2009.

What Will Happen: South Alabama beat UTSA in a double overtime thriller last season thanks to a perfectly balanced attack – running and throwing for 176 yards. Both teams are stronger, both are far more experienced, and both have good upside, but even though UTSA is going to get more out of the lines, USA should be able to control the game just enough offensively and should get a good enough game out of the defense to come up with a solid win.

CFN Prediction: South Alabama 31 … UTSA 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) South Alabama -6.5; O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Boss, 1 - Married To Jonas): 1.5