FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: ULM 2-2, Troy 3-0. Away Record: ULM 2-2, Troy 2-3. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: ULM 2-1, Troy 3-1. Series Record: Troy leads, 8-5-1.
GAME NOTES: Both the ULM Warhawks and the Troy Trojans will attempt to extend their respective winning streak on Thursday night, as the Sun Belt Conference foes square off at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Since losing its Sun Belt opener to Western Kentucky at home on Oct. 3 (31-10), ULM has won back-to-back games, defeating Texas State on the road on Oct. 12 (21-14) and taking down Georgia State at home last Saturday (38-10). The Warhawks have pulled back to .500 at 4-4 following their mini-run.
Troy has been one of the few teams in the conference playing better than ULM in recent weeks, as it has won three straight games, the most recent of which being a 32-26 decision at WKU last weekend. At 5-3, the Trojans are just a win shy of becoming bowl eligible, and they are just a half a game behind Louisiana for first place in the Sun Belt at 3-1. They are also unbeaten in three home games.
Troy leads the all-time series with ULM, 8-5-1, which includes wins in six of the seven matchups played on its home field.
ULM has one of the Sun Belt's worst offenses this season, scoring just 19.9 ppg on 358.1 ypg, but it received an unexpected boost last week with the return of starting quarterback Kolton Browning, who was expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a quad tear earlier this month. Browning returned after missing just two games to throw for 224 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Georgia State. Although he is completing fewer than 55 percent of his passes this season, he has nearly twice as many touchdowns (11) as interceptions (six).
The Warhawks have a dynamic receiving duo, with Rashon Ceaser (493 yards) and Tavarese Maye (370 yards) tied for second in the league with 42 receptions each, although they have just one touchdown between them.
Jyruss Edwards leads a modest rushing attack with 365 yards and two touchdowns. Centarius Donald (234 yards, two TDs) is coming off his best performance of the season, as he ran for 126 yards and a score on just eight carries last week.
When ULM wins, it's usually due to the play of its defense. The unit ranks fourth in the league in allowing 27.4 ppg, but that number shrinks to just 13.6 ppg in its four victories.
Isaiah Newsome has intercepted four passes, including a pair of pick-sixes in a win over Texas State a few weeks back. Cameron Blakes leads the unit with 55 tackles and 2.5 sacks, Ray Stovall (7.5 TFL) and Gerrand Johnson (7.0 TFL) have gotten pressure at the point of attack, and Hunter Kissinger and Mitch Lane have two interceptions apiece.
Troy's offense has performed well this season, the unit ranking second in the league in both scoring (34.1 ppg) and yardage (475.6 ypg), and its efforts are paced by its record-setting senior quarterback.
After posting his 23rd career 300-yard passing performance in last week's win, Corey Robinson now sits with 2,195 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions on greater than 70 percent completions. He is one of the most storied signal callers in NCAA history, ranking 17th all-time in passing yards (12,453), 13th in completions (1,082) and 12th in pass attempts (1,669), and he is on pace to be only the fourth player ever to throw for 3,000 yards in four seasons, joining Timmy Chang, Landry Jones and Kellen Moore.
Robinson is fortunate to have one of the Sun Belt's best receivers on his side in Eric Thomas, who ranks second in the league in both receptions (42) and yards (667), and his 10 touchdowns are tied for fourth most in the nation. Bryan Holmes has also been outstanding out wide with 31 catches, 472 yards and five scores.
Brandon Burks has amassed 616 total yards out of the backfield, while Jordan Chunn (79 carries, 305 yards) has a nose for the end zone with nine touchdowns. Backup QB Deon Anthony has rushed for 355 yards and three scores while also passing for three TDs without a pick.
Although the Trojans have been able to outscore their opposition more often than not, their defense is still cause for concern as the unit allows 32.8 ppg and 472.8 ypg, while forcing a mere six turnovers.
Camren Hudson has 55 tackles to go along with five passes defended, while Tyler Roberts can make things happen along the defensive line with 5.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
ULM appears to be much improved in recent weeks, especially with its leader under center back to work. If the Warhawks defense can continue their opportunistic play, they'll have a good shot at a road victory, but figure for Robinson and the Trojans to continue their impressive play at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 34, ULM 30
Thursday, October 31, 7:30 p.m. (et)