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Duke vs. Troy: Picks, best bets for Birmingham Bowl

The Blue Devils and Trojans will meet at Protective Stadium this afternoon. The Sun Belt champion Trojans enter this game as the favorite.

South Alabama v Troy Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

The 2023 76 Birmingham Bowl will take place this afternoon as the Duke Blue Devils will battle the Troy Trojans at Protective Stadium in Birmingham. This bowl will kick off at noon ET and will air on ABC.

Duke (7-5, 4-4 ACC) is back in a a bowl for a second straight year and assistant Trooper Taylor will be running the show following head coach Mike Elko’s departure for Texas A&M. The Blue Devils began the year with a stunning 28-7 upset of Clemson in Week 1 and began making some noise with their 4-0 start. However, the back half of the season was rocky as starting quarterback Riley Leonard dealt with a nagging ankle injury. Freshman backup Grayson Loftis got some run towards the end of the season and showed some promise.

Troy (11-2, 8-1 Sun Belt) will also have an interim coaching this game with Greg Gasparato running the show following Jon Sumrall’s departure to Tulane. The Trojans successfully defended their Sun Belt title from last year, winning 10 games before stomping Appalachian State 49-23 in the conference championship game a few weeks back. Running back Kimani Vidal earned Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year honors by rushing for 1,582 yards and 14 touchdowns.

SP+ Rankings

Duke: 29 overall, 54 offense, 25 defense
Troy: 26 overall, 34 offense, 28 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

Duke

QB Riley Leonard - Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Jordan Waters - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Malik Bowen-Sims - Out (Transfer Portal)
QB Henry Belin IV - Out (Upper Body)

Troy

No new injuries or portal departures.

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

Duke: 6-6 ATS
Troy: 8-5 ATS

Total in 2023

Duke: Over 7-4-1
Troy: Over 6-7

Team Pace

Duke: 2.14 plays per minute of offense
Troy: 2.17 plays per minute of offense

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Troy -7
Total: 44.5
Moneyline: Troy -270, Duke +220

Opening line: Troy -5.5
Opening total: 44.5

Weather

68 degrees, cloudy, 6 MPH winds SSE

Our Best Bet for the Birmingham Bowl

Duke +7

It’s really difficult to make heads or tails of bowl games featuring two interim coaching staffs and this year’s Birmingham Bowl fits that bill. Both teams matchup well against each other on paper and I think both sets of players will have something to prove before their new coaching staffs take over following the game. Duke may be missing Leonard and top running back Jordan Waters, but I think the Blue Devils will show enough fight to keep this close and cover.