Posted by Chip Patterson
Why You Should Watch: As opposed to other early bowls, where teams occasionally enter the bowl feeling as though they did not reach their expectations on the season, the R and L Carriers New Orleans Bowl carries immense weight to both teams involved. Troy, making their third New Orleans Bowl appearance in the last five years, will be looking to finish the season strong after clinching a share of the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Ohio has yet to capture their first bowl win, and will be making their fifth postseason attempt in the Superdome. Last season, the Bobcats fell 21-17 to Marshall in the Little Caeser's Pizza Bowl. This will be the first time in school history the team has been to bowl games in back-to-back years. Much of that can be credited to a familiar face on the Ohio sideline: head coach Frank Solich. Solich, of Nebraska football fame. So even if you are failing to find a reason to fall in love with the matchup, it is at least worth a watch for the "Where are they now?" factor.
Keys To Victory for Troy: Troy will be able to create offensive opportunities with their high-powered spread scheme, but with 15 interceptions on the season, freshman quarterback Corey Robinson can be a liability for the Trojans. The responsibility will fall on their rushing game to keep the Ohio secondary honest. The three-man attack of DuJuan Harris, Shawn Southward, and Chris Anderson will try and utilize seams opened by the spread attack to balance the offense. That will hopefully leave dangerous slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan an opportunity to get the ball in open field - where he has the best chance to hurt the Bearcats.
Keys To Victory for Ohio: Ohio ranks just outside the top 10 nationally with 17 interceptions on the season, and that secondary will be looking to take advantage of the interception-prone Robinson. Additionally, the offensive line will need to provide quarterback Boo Jackson with protection against Troy's front four. If the Trojans line can penetrate into the backfield and disrupt the timing of Jackson's reads, they will be masking their greatest weakness: the run. The Bobcats have utilize a lot of different rushers out of the Pistol formation, and if they can keep Troy on their heels they can dictate the pace of the game. Jackson has shown the ability to manage games well, but he cannot be counted on to play catch up with the deep ball. Ohio needs to avoid an early deficit to keep the game close.
The New Orleans Bowl is like: A surprisingly good appetizer. Sure, you ordered the artichoke dip because you nothing on the menu jumped out at you and you figured "why not?" The night cap on the first day of the bowl season may seem like it has a "why not" feel. But then once you dig in you find it to be surprisingly pleasing, so much that you wonder why you ever imagined skipping the course at all. Troy and Ohio both have plenty of reason to be fired up to finish their season in the Superdome, and they match up well enough to promise a close game. Many of the athletes on these teams may have been just one or two notches away from big-time football, don't think that running onto the field in New Orleans won't have that fell for them.