Troy (1-7) at Georgia Southern (6-2) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Paulson Stadium (25,000) -- Statesboro, Georgia. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Troy 1-3, GSU 3-0. Away Record: Troy 0-4, GSU 3-2. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, GSU 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 1-3, GSU 5-0. Series Record: Troy leads, 10-3.
GAME NOTES: The top team in the Sun Belt Conference hits the field at Paulson Stadium for a special Thursday night edition of college football, as the Georgia Southern Eagles host the slumping Troy Trojans.
The Eagles are coming off one of their strongest offensive performances of the season as they crushed a woeful Georgia State squad in Atlanta last weekend, 69-31. As great as the effort was, GSU actually scored more against Savannah State earlier in the campaign with an 83-9 decision at home on Sept. 6.
However, the difference between the Savannah State meeting and that against the Panthers is that the latter came in conference play and now the Eagles are a perfect 5-0 in league action, two games ahead of Louisiana in the standings. The latest victory was also the 300th in program history.
As for the Trojans, they've won just one of their four league bouts, taking out New Mexico State on Homecoming on Oct. 11 by a score of 41-24. Unfortunately, since then Troy has been tripped up twice by Appalachian State (53-14), and most recently South Alabama last week, 27-13.
Also working against the Trojans at the moment is the fact that the team is winless in four tries on the road. The last true road win came more than a year ago (Oct. 26, 2013) in a 32-26 final versus Western Kentucky in Bowling Green.
The Trojans have won 10 of the previous 13 meetings in the series with GSU, although the most recent matchup took place during the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs back in 1995, a clash that went in favor of the Eagles by a score of 34-21.
Georgia Southern has won three of the last four versus Troy, after the Trojans began the relationship in 1934 and strung together nine consecutive victories.
Against South Alabama last week, the Trojans fell behind by double digits in the first quarter and never recovered. In fact, it wasn't until the final minute of the fourth quarter that Troy was able to get the ball into the end zone, courtesy of an eight-yard pass from Dontreal Pruitt to B.J. Chitty.
Pruitt and Brandon Silvers combined to hit 13-of-24 passes for 145 yards in the losing cause. The squad ran for a collective 164 yards as Jordan Chunn and Brandon Burks posted 53 and 50 yards, respectively.
In addition to allowing 402 yards of total offense to the Jaguars, Troy didn't do itself any favors by being flagged 10 times for a loss of 100 yards. On the average, the Trojans are being hit with about seven penalties per game for 67 yards.
At this stage of the season, Troy ranks 118th in the FBS in scoring defense with 39.0 ppg allowed, with much of that having to do with the fact that the Trojans are 122nd in red zone defense, permitting opponents to score 97.2 percent of the time that they are inside the 20-yard line.
Offensively, the squad is generating just 18.8 ppg (115th nationally), due in part to the passing attack having just six TDs on 264 attempts. Chunn has almost as many TDs (four) himself on the ground, even though he has run for just 211 yards in eight games.
The Eagles became just the second FBS team this season to run for at least 600 yards in a single game, as the team rolled over Georgia State last Saturday afternoon. Of the 660 yards of offense generated by GSU, all but 47 came on the ground. Running back Matt Breida ran for a game-high 201 yards and scored four times on 12 rushing attempts.
Kevin Ellison was called upon to attempt just six passes during the onslaught, completing five of them. The quarterback did contribute to the rushing attack however, posting 115 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Ellison hasn't had to do too much in the way of putting the ball in the air this season. In eight games, the signal caller has completed a total of 45 passes for 734 yards and five touchdowns. When you add that to what Favian Upshaw has accomplished in his seven appearances, the Eagles have a total of only seven TDs and their 124.5 ypg through the air is one of the worst efforts by any team in the FBS at the moment.
Then again, this is a team that thrives on the ground, producing a staggering 402.1 ypg, compared to only 144.1 ypg for the competition. Breida, with his 12 TDs, is averaging 129.0 ypg. Ean Days, L.A. Ramsby and Ellison have each recorded at least five rushing TDs for a squad that has a staggering 40 scores by way of the run thus far, while the opposition has but 11.
After coming off such a wildly successful game the Eagles might let their guard down a bit on Thursday night. Still, with as much as the hosts run, that alone should keep the ball out of the hands of the Trojans in what should be another solid victory for GSU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 45, Troy 20Game Date and Time
Thursday, October 30, 7:30 p.m. (ET).