AT LONG LAST: Troy to open season against Boise State Saturday

Published 10:00 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

It’s been over eight months since Troy head coach Neal Brown hoisted the the New Orleans Bowl Championship trophy over his head after his Trojans knocked off North Texas 50-30 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. On Saturday, football will finally be back when the Trojans host the No. 22 Boise State Broncos at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Excitement has been near an all-time high for the Trojan faithful. In the last two years, the Trojans have accumulated 21 wins, two bowl victories and their first Sun Belt Conference championship since 2010.

The Trojans have been working over the last two weeks in what Brown called a solid fall camp.

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“Ready or not, it is football time,” Brown said. “We’ve had a solid camp, and we are going into the game pretty healthy – which was not the case a year ago. I’m ready to see really where we are. College football is unique in the sense that high schools have scrimmages, the NFL has probably too many preseason games. In college, we go from scrimmaging one another to lining up and playing. In our case, we are going to line up and play a nationally-ranked opponent.”

That nationally-ranked opponent is No. 22 Boise State, arguably one of the top teams within the “Group of Five.” The two teams met last year in Boise to open the season, with the Broncos coming away with a 24-13 win.

“We are going to line up and play against a ranked opponent and this is a great opportunity this week to play against Boise,” Brown said. “I think the attention around our program within the Troy community, within our state and nationally is probably higher than it’s ever been. I think a lot of it this season has to do with the opening game.”

The Broncos come into the season as one of the winningest college programs in the past decade. They have represented the Group of Five in big time bowl games over the years and look to do it again this season. Coach Brown and the Trojans look at Boise as a team to emulate.

“I have a lot of respect for coach (Bryan) Harsin and his staff for what Boise has been able to do,” Brown said. “I think they are the winningest program over the last 10-plus years in college football. Quite frankly, Boise is who we are striving to be. They are annually one of the top Group of Five programs and that’s where we are trying to take the Troy program.”

The Trojans’ strong matchup against the Broncos is sure to bring an excited and large crowd to Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“This is a great challenge for us,” Brown said. “Somebody just asked me why ‘you guys are playing a huge game right out of the box.’ I think it’s great. I think it’s great for college football, I think it’s great for our program. I’m not saying it’s the biggest game we have ever played, but it may be the most significant opener for us.”

The Trojans will officially open up the North Endzone Facility on opening day, a facility that is sure to draw the attention of not only the fans, but of future Trojans as well.

“That facility is going to enable us year in and year out to have the opportunity to compete at the top of our conference and make us competitive against anybody in the Group of Five in recruiting,” Brown said.

Brown hopes the new facility paired with the Broncos being in town will drive in the crowd.

“Hopefully our fans are going to show out,” Brown said. “Alabama and Auburn are both out of town so we expect to have a huge crowd. Hopefully it will be the largest crowd we have ever had in Veterans Memorial Stadium.”

Despite the outcome of the game on Saturday, how things are handled and the day-to-day business for the Trojans will not change.

“Regardless of what happens on Saturday, how we handle Sunday and Monday is going to be the exact same,” Brown said. “We talk about this week and this week only. I’m not concerned about the ramifications that go along with this game. I’m more concerned about us handling everything that goes along with this week in terms of the North End Zone opening up, we are going to play a lot of young people, the added media because of the recent success that we’ve had and drowning out all of that noise and preparing to play our best.”