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Trojan welcome Golden Panthers in conference showdown

For the first time in almost a month, Veterans Memorial Stadium will be full of life on a Saturday afternoon.

But the upcoming game is no ordinary one, as the stands will be filled with Trojans fan both young and old, as Troy will be celebrating its homecoming.

And after coming off a much-needed win on the road against North Texas last weekend, the Trojans will hoping to keep its winning ways going, as it looks to cap off the homecoming festivities with a win over Florida International. And head coach Larry Blakeney is hoping everyone is there to see it.

“Hopefully, that will be our best crowd,” the coach said. “We are playing a team in which I think we will need our best crowd. The students will be excited all week.

“We certainly have to temper our participation in homecoming activities because we have other fish to fry, as they say. Saturday is our big part. Trying to make sure we get ready to do that part of it. I’m hoping that we break a record as far as attendance and the attendance at the Trojan Walk.”

As far as records go, there is good reason for Trojan Nation to come out. Under Blakeney, the Trojans have gone 17-1-1 on homecoming, and are currently riding a 12-game winning streak.

Since 1950, Troy is 35-12-1 on homecoming.

Coming into Saturday’s game, both the team and the fans will be hoping the statistics hold up, due to what is at stake.

As the Golden Panthers come into town, the Sun Belt title will be on the line. Even though Florida International is 3-5 on the season, it has a 3-1 record in the conference, and trail the Trojans, who are 5-3, and 4-1, by just one game.

“I picked FIU to win, as far as my pick last year, to win the league but they had some injuries and some problems and didn’t quite get it done,” Blakeney said.

“Mario Cristobal is a really good football coach and has recruited well, and they have as much talent as anyone across the board in our conference. They are playing pretty well and they played some teams like Rutgers, (Texas) A&M, and Pitt, and they have most of the bulk of the conference season in front of them and its starts with us on Saturday.”

Along with the stellar homecoming record, the Trojans also have faired well against the Golden Panthers, as Troy holds a 6-0 mark on the team from South Florida. But regardless of what happened in the past, the Trojans know what is at stake in the present.

“It is huge,” quarterback Corey Robinson said. “They only have one loss, like we do, and whoever wins this game is obviously going to be in the driver’s seat to win the conference. They are very talented and the have a real fast defense. We are going to have to practice hard this week to get ready to go.”

After going through a bit of a slump in the previous two games, Robinson bounced back against North Texas, throwing for 347 yards and two touchdowns.

“I felt like our offense played a really good game with the exception of a couple of little thing,” the freshman said. “That is especially true on my part. “I felt like we played a good game, as a team. We stuck it out to the end and the defense stepped up big there at the end of the game to stop them. We showed that we still have something left in the tank here at the end of the season. We have to come out this week and get ready to play against FIU.”