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Very Early Thoughts on the Troy Game

Earlier in the week, I provided a short course on the Oklahoma State Cowboys, with whom the 'Dawgs will clash on the gridiron next September. While we were on the subject of Georgia's unfamiliar out-of-conference foes for the fall, I thought I might take a look at the Troy Trojans, as well.

Different Trojans. (Photograph from Sports Illustrated.)

The Red and Black will square off with the student-athletes of Troy University for the first time on November 3 . . . which, for whatever it might be worth, is my 39th birthday and the sixth wedding anniversary of my good friends, Jason and Kati Burnette. (I was a groomsman in their wedding. Did I mention that Jason will be a judicial clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court? I did? Well, it bears repeating.)

Honestly, I only recently became aware of the Sun Belt squad from the Yellowhammer State. As recently as last month, I thought Troy was just one guy instead of an entire football team.

It turns out, though, that the Trojans have been playing football since 1909 . . . although they originally were known as the Bulldogs, more than a decade before the Red and Black began using that moniker. The Alabamans started using the nickname "Trojans" in 1922, just 10 years after Southern California's sports teams (which hitherto had been known as the Methodists and the Wesleyans) began using that same mascot.

The University of Southern California Methodists? John Wesley would not have approved! (Photograph from NNDB.)

Most of Troy's gridiron history was spent as a lower-tier school playing in such conferences as the Alabama Intercollegiate, the Gulf South, and the Southland Football League. The Trojans enjoyed some success as a Division II team, capturing a trio of national championships at that level.

Troy's first national title came in 1968, the year Georgia won its sixth S.E.C. championship and Boise State moved up to Division II status. A subsequent first-place finish in the playoffs came in 1984, when the Trojans were under the direction of Chan Gailey.

Since moving up to Division I-A in 2001, the Sun Belt squad has been a regular participant in the B.C.S. conference road tour, facing Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana State, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, Mississippi State twice, Missouri three times, Nebraska four times, South Carolina twice, and Virginia. The Trojans were 2-19 in those 21 outings, beating M.S.U. in Starkville in 2001 and defeating Missouri in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium in 2004.

Yes, that's right. Troy plays its home games in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium, to which (sensibly enough) Movie Gallery purchased the naming rights in 2003. I go back and forth over whether the company or the university ought to be more embarrassed by that fact.

Any mention of a video store must be accompanied by a photograph of Randal Graves. (Image from Cinematic Intelligence Agency.)

In any case, the Trojans have surrendered 30 or more points in 13 of their 19 losses to B.C.S. conference opponents, allowing more than 40 on nine of those occasions. Nevertheless, Troy continues to hammer away at respectability, having scheduled upcoming games against Arkansas (2007 and 2009), Florida (2007 and 2009), L.S.U. (2008), Ohio State (2008), and Oklahoma State (2007 and 2008), in addition to Georgia.

When stepping up in weight class, the Trojans have experienced either feast or famine. They have been shut out in three of their last 10 games against B.C.S. conference competition, yet, during that same span, Troy has beaten Missouri and played well in losses to South Carolina (by 10), to L.S.U. (by four), to Florida State (by seven), and to Georgia Tech (by 15 in a game that was tied after three quarters).

The Trojans' placement on the Bulldogs' schedule is slightly odd. Although Troy has been known to play B.C.S. conference opponents in November, including Maryland in 2001 and Arkansas in 2002, Georgia has not faced a team from outside the major conferences that late in the season since taking on Temple in 1989. For the Red and Black, the timing of this game is favorable; for the visiting team, the trip to Athens comes sandwiched between an October 27 date with Arkansas State in Jonesboro and a November 10 showdown with Louisiana-Monroe at home.

Here's hoping Georgia catches Troy looking ahead to U.L.M.

Go 'Dawgs!