New Orleans Bowl Preview: Troy, Ohio in a Battle of Opposites

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, December 18, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: The one day each year that more than a few Americans can name a trucking company without having to look it up. And a reminder that MAC teams aren't just there to lose to Up North Conference teams early in the season and Sun Belt teams aren't just cannon fodder for the SEC.

The Teams: Ohio and Troy

How Ohio got here: After a 1-3 start that included a win against Wofford, a 36-point waxing against Ohio State and a one-point loss to Marshall, the Bobcats reeled off seven straight wins before getting creamed at Kent State. Yes, that Kent State. No, they're not very good. The Bobcats run well and shut down the run -- and they punt really, really well. (PUNTING IS WINNING.) Part of the defensive success is Stafford Gatling, who has 6.5 sacks and 13.5 TFL this year. And the defense has to play well, because the offense is not exactly known for lighting up the scoreboard. The only potential issue is the passing defense, which -- as we shall soon see -- could be a rather important issue in this game, indeed.

How Troy got here: Points. Lots and lots of points. The "other" Trojans scored fewer than 30 points just three times, and they lost two of those. Troy had its annual near-miss against a major BCS program, losing by three points against Oklahoma State, but also got annihilated by South Carolina later in the year. (The Gamecocks won by 45, and weren't even really trying in the second half.) The Trojans also managed to lose to UAB, Louisiana-Monroe and FIU, which might unprecedented for a bowl team. The centerpiece of the offense is Corey Robinson, who threw the ball more than 35 times in all but two games -- and in those games he threw it 33 and 34 times. The centerpiece of the defense is playing as little as possible; the defense is next-to-last in the Sun Belt.

College football fans care because: They're very devoted college football fans. Otherwise, they probably don't.

SEC fans care because: Odds are, your team is going to play Troy at some point in the next few years.

Watch this game if...: You care about the continuing revitalization of New Orleans. (And if you don't think ESPN is still going to hit that storyline a few times, you've never watched ESPN.)

The result: Troy 52, Ohio 28

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