TSU looks for redemption with win over North Texas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 22, 2001

Sports Editor

Troy State University’s final football game of the season will be at home against 5-5 North Texas University.

That’s Sun Belt Conference Co-Champion North Texas University to you, a team which – even with a loss to Troy State two week’s from now – will represent that inaugaral league in the first ever 2001 New Orleans Bowl to be held on Dec. 18.

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Sounds amazing, but it’s true.

Including a conference loss to Louisiana-Monroe, the "Mean Green" of North Texas started the year off at 0-5 before capturing its first win on Oct. 13 against league foe Middle Tennessee. That win proved to be the tiebreaker North Texas would eventually need. The Blue Raiders won its remaining Sun Belt games, but UNT finished the season with five straight wins.

North Texas defeated Idaho 50-27 last Saturday to claim one-half of the crown, while Middle Tennesse finished out 8-3 with a 38-14 win over Conneticut.

So even though the NCAA madates a six-game winning record to be bowl eligible, North Texas could conceivabley be 5-6 in New Orleans on Dec. 18.

Which is what TSU head coach Larry Blakeney hopes to see.

Almost two months later, Blakeney is still stinging from the Sept. 8 beating administered to his team by Middle Tennessee. He sees the North Texas game as the Trojans chance "to get a little redemption."

"We have a chance to get redemption from the worst game I have been a part of here," said Blakeney. Middle Tennessee beat the Trojans, 54-17, on Sept. 8. "North Texas beat Middle and we have a chance to beat them. That would be nice. I also think we’d get a little notice for that game, from the Sun Belt and from college football."

Troy State secured a winning season in its transition year to Division 1-A by beating Jacksonville State 21-3 last week at Memorial Stadium.

"I feel good for the seniors especially," said Blakeney. "I’m happy our seniors were able to help us accomplish that goal, especially with the tough games we had on the road coming into this year."

Last Saturday’s meeting with the Division 1-AA Gamecocks may have also been the last in for awhile on the football field.

But Blakeney believes there will be a chance in the future for the rivalry to resume.

"This rivalry has always been intense and I don’t think it’ll stop," he said. "Right now, we’re playing them in every other sport, so maybe there’ll be a chance to rotate them on on our schedule in the future. But who knows about college football. We may all be in the same bucket here before too long. It’s hard to predict."

The Trojans worked out on Monday and Tuesday, but will take the rest of the week off for the Thanksgiving holidays. Blakeney said the team and coaches will return to work next Sunday.