December 17, 2010

Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5)Dec. 18, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Reason to watch: It's the nation's first glimpse of Troy quarterback Corey Robinson, who pieced together an impressive freshman campaign. Robinson quietly passed for 3,339 yards (12th nationally) and 24 touchdowns, leading the Trojans to a share of the Sun Belt title. It's also a chance to watch Ohio defensive end Stafford Gatling, who had 6.5 sacks on his way to second-team All-MAC honors.

Keep an eye on: The turnovers. Both teams were horrendous at maintaining possession, tying for 112th nationally with 30 lost turnovers each. Robinson threw 15 interceptions and Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson tossed 16. (Jackson's status is up in the air due to academic issues.) When Ohio does have the ball, look for receiver Terrence McCrae to find the end zone. The senior has nine touchdown receptions, including six in his last seven games.

Did you know: Troy hasn't won a bowl game since 2006. The Trojans have come heartbreakingly close, losing 44-41 to Central Michigan last year and 30-27 to Southern Miss in 2008, both in overtime. The Trojans held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of both games. Ohio has never won a bowl game, and this will be just its fifth bowl appearance.

Final analysis: In what should be a messy game, the team that limits mistakes will likely come out on top. That should be Troy, whose up-tempo offense (25th nationally) can compensate for its 92nd-ranked defense. Coach Larry Blakeney will stack the box to force the Bobcats to air it out and will look to dynamic receiver Jerrel Jernigan to make at least one big play. The Trojans should also have a significant fan advantage, as Troy's campus is 600 miles closer to the Superdome than Ohio's.

The pick: Troy 35, Ohio 30 NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:

Troy: WR Jerrel Jernigan -- Jernigan has been swiftly rising up draft boards the past three months and is rated as the top senior receiver by a number of NFL teams. He's the go-to guy in the Troy offense and has the ability to break games open at receiver or as a return specialist. Jernigan will showcase his talents for NFL decision makers in next month's Senior Bowl. Grade: Second- to third-round prospect.

Ohio: WR LaVon Brazill -- The game-breaker was lost for the season after suffering a leg injury early in the 2010 campaign. But he's a reliable pass-catcher with home run speed and can score from anywhere on the field. He's expected to petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility. Grade: Fourth- to fifth-round prospect.

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