College football fans can breathe easy when the Troy Trojans and the North Texas Mean Green square off in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
No, Troy (10-2) and North Texas (9-4) are not meeting in a College Football Playoff game or even a New Year's Six bowl. However, the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that will be televised by ESPN represents the first bowl game of the 2017-18 postseason.
While neither team is considered high profile, this has the chance to be an exciting, high-scoring matchup between two sides with excellent passing games.
North Texas has averaged 467 yards of offense this season, and the Mean Green has been explosive throughout the year. They could not handle Florida Atlantic, losing twice to their rival, including the Conference USA championship game. North Texas' other losses were to Iowa and SMU early in the season.
Troy had a huge win early in the campaign against Louisiana State, but the Trojans had a problem with inconsistency as they lost to South Alabama in their next game. The Trojans come into their bowl game on a six-game winning streak.
North Texas is led by quarterback Mason Fine, who threw for 3,749 yards with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Troy will counter with a pair of defensive studs in linebacker Hunter Reese and defensive end Jamal Stadom.
Reese has 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks, while Stadom has 9.5 tackles behind the line and 6.0 QB traps. As a team, the Trojans registered 101 tackles for loss and 36 sacks this season.
When Troy is on offense, quarterback Brandon Silvers is able to trigger the offense. He has 2,985 passing yards this season with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Running back Jordan Chunn had 774 rushing yards during the regular season while averaging 5.0 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns.
Chunn demonstrated he could be at his best in big games when he had 30 carries for 191 yards in the upset win over LSU. But he was not in his best form during the final three games of the regular season with 143 yards on 35 carries.
Freshman running back Nic Smith is likely to get the bulk of the carries for North Texas.; he had 665 yards and six touchdowns. Top running back Jeffery Wilson had 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, but he has an injured foot and is unlikely to play.
Troy is a seven-point favorite in the game, which has been assigned a total 62 points, according to OddsShark.
This should be a back-and-forth game that features several eye-catching touchdowns from both sides.
Troy probably has more firepower, and that will most likely play out in the fourth quarter. Look for the Trojans to have the edge as the game reaches its conclusion.
We see Troy winning and getting the cover, and the game going over the total.