All is well for No. 5 Troy State

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Troy State’s got ’em now just where they want ’em.

Saturday’s 20-10 loss to South Florida might very well be one of the best things that could have happened to our Trojans.

First of all how many teams have ever won 15 straight games to win the Division I-AA National Championship? Not many! I think Marshall is it and maybe Georgia Southern, but it has not been done many times.

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The next point I want to make is how tough it is to stay number one in the country for a single season, much less 15 games. Everybody is shooting bullets at the team on top. South Florida thought they had won the national championship after the final whistle had blown Saturday. They played very inspired football the entire game, maybe even over their heads because they treated the game like it was for the national championship. Bulls’ head coach Jim Leavitt said after the game that from the very start he told his team that the Troy game was their national championship game because of the Bulls’ decision to forego their last season of eligibility for the Division I-AA playoffs. South Florida of course has already made the move to Division I-A and have already started recruiting 85 scholarship athletes instead of the 63 in Division I-AA. Troy State could have opted to do the same thing but wanted a last opportunity to win a I-AA championship.

No one is jumping up and down about losing in Tampa Saturday night, but if you’re going to lose it’s better to lose early in the season and to a non-conference opponent.

Any how, who in their right mind thought TSU could go undefeated this season with so many tough games on the road. This is a very tough league TSU plays in and to go 10-1 or 9-2 and make the I-AA playoffs you’ve had a banner year.

I’m actually glad that Troy State has the monkey off their back. Now as the fifth-ranked team in the country, I hope it’s all up hill for us the rest of the season. Let Georgia Southern, Youngstown State and Florida A&M have more pressure on them for a change.

Like I’ve said so many other times this season, TSU has a murderous schedule and there could be other Saturday’s like this past one in our future.

Take this Saturday, for instance. A Trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana to play 3-1 Northwestern State on AstroTurf. The Trojans must stop the Demons great tailback Tony Taylor, who is averaging 186 yards per game. The Demons have won the Southland Football League Champion twice in the last three years. A tough road trip. A victory here would give TSU a head start toward their second SFL title. I’m sure if you asked Trojan coach Larry Blakeney

before the season if he could live with being 3-1 after his first four non-conference games, he would have said yes.

If you’ve ever heard Coach Blakeney speak he’s always made it very clear that he and his team’s goals were to win the Southland Football Championship and make the Division I-AA playoffs and have an opportunity to win a national championship.

Troy State can finish 9-2 or 8-3 and make the playoffs. The winner of the Southland Football League gets an automatic bid. Blakeney’s goals are still very much intact with seven tough regular season conference games to go.

But it won’t be easy with the likes of Southwest Texas on Thursday, Oct. 12 in Troy, Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas on Oct. 21, Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas, on Nov. 4 , McNeese State in Troy on Nov. 11, and arch-rival Jacksonville State in Jacksonville on Nov. 18. To play TSU’s homecoming game with Nicholls State will also be a tough one. The SFL is stronger this year overall than anytime I can remember.

The Trojans have made the playoffs six times in the last seven years and have a good enough team to do it again this year.

We can still feel very good about our football team but each game from here on is going to be a big challenge because it’s hard to win on the road in the SFL.

We’ll play them one at a time and see what happens.

Go Trojans!!