When Troy and Ohio meet for just the second time on Friday night in the Dollar General Bowl, it will be a matchup of strengths. Troy coach Neal Brown, 36, brings his powerful offense to Mobile to face a stingy defense led by a coach twice his age. Ohio coach Frank Solich, 72, has led the Bobcats to eight of their 10 bowl appearances. This season, Ohio went 8-5 largely due to its defense stepping up in Mid-American Conference play.
Ohio allowed a respectable 22.2 points per game this season, but the defense was especially strong in MAC play as it held opponents to 10 points or fewer in four games. On the Bobcats' trip to then-No. 15 Tennessee on Sept. 17, they held the talented Volunteers offense in check in a 28-19 loss. Troy, on the other hand, averages a Sun Belt-best 34.1 points per game. The Trojans have scored 40 or more points on four occasions. Against No. 2 Clemson at Death Valley on Sept. 10, the Trojans put up a valiant offensive effort in a 30-24 loss.
Individually, Troy is led by quarterback Brandon Silvers, who completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,945 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. He also added 150 yards and four scores on the ground this year, raising his career numbers to 7,276 total yards and 63 touchdowns over three seasons. Despite Brown's Air Raid system, the Trojans run well, too. Running back Jordan Chunn needs 106 yards to break the school's single-season record set by Arrid Gregory in 1996.
Ohio's defense is led by senior lineman Tarell Basham, the MAC defensive player of the year. Basham totaled 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss this season while helping the Bobcats allow the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game (105.8) in the FBS. Basham will have one more game in his college career after Friday, in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28.
ESPN's Football Power Index gives Troy a 64 percent chance to win. That would give the Trojans their first 10-win season since becoming a full-time FBS member in 2012.