FIU (1-6) at Troy (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: FIU 1-3, Troy 0-3. Away Record: FIU 0-3, Troy 3-0. Neutral Record: FIU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 0-3, Troy 2-2. Series Record: Troy leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: The Troy Trojans go after their first home win of the season when they host the FIU Panthers at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Adversely, FIU is seeking its first road victory of the season as its lone triumph came at home over Akron. Since defeating the Zips, 41-38, in their second game of the season, the Panthers have lost five in a row. Coach Mario Cristobal's team was unsuccessful in its first three SBC contests against Louisiana (48-20), Arkansas State (34-20), and Middle Tennessee (34-30).
Troy is 3-3 despite going 0-3 at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Trojans were edged by Western Kentucky (31-26) on Oct. 11 in their last outing which dropped their SBC mark to an even 2-2. Troy is 92-17-1 at home under coach Larry Blakeney and never had a losing home record in any of his previous 22 seasons. Blakeney has 167 career wins at Troy while the other nine head coaches in the Sun Belt have combined for 140 victories at their current school.
FIU did not have a stellar offense in 2011 during its eight-win season in which it earned a bowl invitation. The offense did however have a playmaker in T.Y. Hilton and a steady QB in Wes Carroll.
The FIU offense (25.4 ppg, 386.9 ypg) has been fairly consistent in the early going, putting up 20 points or more in each of its seven games.
Jake Metlock had been solid under center, throwing for 1,207 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Metlock missed two games with an injury before returning last week to pass for a career-high 380 yards with two touchdowns on 24-of-38 efficiency.
Three different Panther rushers have gained 200 yards or more, paced by Kedrick Rhodes with 272 yards and one touchdowns. Darian Mallary (65 carries, 260 yards) becomes a big factor in the red zone, rushing in eight touchdowns. Jeremiah Harden (235 yards, 43 carries) provides a spark when utilized.
Wayne Times is the team's top receiving target, but averages less than 10 yards per catch (40 receptions, 384 yards). Rhodes is also utilized in the passing game with 10 catches for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Glenn Coleman (five receptions, 115 yards, TD) and Willis Wright (three receptions, 109 yards, TD) each had big days receiving in last week's heartbreaking loss to Middle Tennessee.
The FIU defense, which was its strength last season, is not the same in 2012. It is allowing 37.3 points and 432.9 yards per game. Louisville is the only opponent FIU has held under 30 points this season.
The unit has five interceptions by five different players. Johnathan Cyprien has a team-best 60 tackles and Tourek Williams has eight tackles for loss.
Troy's offense has been moving the ball successfully, but its high total yardage output (477.3 ypg) has yet to result in dominating results on the scoreboard (26.3 ppg).
Corey Robinson is Troy's all-time leading passer, but he may not be fully recovered from the injury that sidelined him in last week's loss in time for Saturday. Deon Anthony was solid in his place, going 9-of-16 for 147 yards and one touchdown. Anthony is in his first season at Troy after playing the past two seasons as the junior college level. His duel threat style gives the Trojans a different look when he is under center.
Chip Reeves is one of the SBC's most productive receivers as he leads the team in catches (32), yards (538) and receiving touchdowns (three). Eric Thomas (299 yards) and tailback Shawn Southward (148 yards) both have 23 or more receptions, and Chandler Worthy is second on the team with 312 yards on just 22 catches.
Southward is also Troy's primary rusher with 114 carries for 573 yards and five touchdowns.
The Trojans are not traditionally known for being a strong defensive team, but they have allowed an average of only 309.5 yards in their last two outings.
Brynden Trawick has a team-high 46 tackles and also has one of the unit's three interceptions.
Both these teams are coming off of tough losses. FIU could very well pull off the upset if Metlock's momentum from last week follows him to Alabama. Anthony has played well for Troy in relief work, but there will be much more pressure on him if he makes his first career start this week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 30, Troy 28
10/17 10:47:36 ET