Troy travels to SBC leader Georgia State

Published 4:52 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

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TROY, Ala. – Troy’s early-season gauntlet of a schedule continues Saturday with a visit to Atlanta to take on undefeated and Sun Belt-leading Georgia State at Center Parc Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (CT), and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

The Trojans (2-2, 0-1 SBC) have already faced two defending conference champions (Kansas State, Stephen F. Austin), two preseason conference favorites (Western Kentucky, James Madison) and now hit the road for a visit to the early season surprise in the league, Georgia State (4-0, 1-0).

The Panthers went on the road and dominated Coastal Carolina last Thursday, walking away with a 30-17 victory, just Georgia State’s 15th Sun Belt road win since it joined the league in 2013. Troy had a bounce-back win over Western Kentucky, 27-24, limiting the high-powered Hilltoppers to just 288 total yards, 13 on the ground, while Gunnar Watson threw for 349 yards and Kimani Vidal rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

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Troy’s success can be directly tied to the performance of Watson and Vidal. The Trojans are 6-2 when Watson throws for at least 315 yards and 9-2 when he throws two or more touchdowns, while the number jumps to 18-3 when Vidal hits the 50-yard mark.

What makes Vidal so unique is his ability to run the football after first contact. He has forced 24 missed tackles this season and ranks second nationally (min. 80 carries), averaging 4.44 yards after contact; he rushed for 120 yards after contact and forced 10 missed tackles against WKU.

The Trojan defense continues to perform at an elite level, holding 11-of-18 opponents the last two seasons to 19 or fewer points. Troy is tied for third nationally this season, having held three opponents to 290 yards or fewer three times.

The 4-0 start for Georgia State is the best in its program history, and the Panthers are one of just 23 undefeated teams remaining in the country; Georgia State’s three FBS opponents have a combined 1-9 record against FBS programs. Quarterback Darren Grainger ranks 15th nationally and second in the Sun Belt, averaging 314.3 yards of total offense per game, and has completed 70 percent of his passes this season; Troy is holding opponents to 303.8 yards per game. 

The Panthers have won three straight in the series, all coming in the transition years between Neal Brown and Jon Sumrall, winning by an average of 16 points. Troy has had success scoring the football against Georgia State, scoring 31-plus points in seven of the nine previous meetings.

Quotable – Troy Head Coach Jon Sumrall

“They are 4-0 for a reason; we’re 2-2, we need to get to 3-2 and it’s going to take a really good week of preparation and us to play a really clean game to have that opportunity. It’s a tremendous challenge on the road in a night game.”


• Troy is 8-1 when Kimani Vidal rushes for 100-plus yards and 18-3 when he rushes for 50-plus yards. The Trojans are 6-11 when Vidal rushes for fewer than 50 yards.

• Troy finished 6-0 in close games at the half last season (score differential is five points or less) … the Trojans are 1-1 this season.

• From 2005-21, Troy was 11-73 when trailing at the half and 5-52 when scoring less than 21 points … last season, Troy was 5-1 when trailing at the half and 5-1 when scoring less than 21 points.

• Senior safety Dell Pettus has started 51 straight games, the longest active streak in the country.

• Troy is 6-2 when Gunnar Watson throws for 315 yards or more and 9-2 when he throws multiple touchdown passes.

• Kimani Vidal’s 514 rushing yards are the most by a Trojan through the first four games of a season since at least 2000; Arrid Gregory rushed for a program record 1,337 yards in 1996 and rushed for 230 yards in the first four games.

• Troy has won 11 straight games and 13 of the last 15 games when it rushes for 100-plus yards. Troy is 56-15 since 2015 when rushing for 100 yards or more in a game.

• Troy is tied for third nationally, holding 3-of-4 opponents to 290 yards or fewer this season, one of just two G5 schools (Ohio).

• Richard Jibunor enters the weekend as the nation’s active leader in sacks, solo sacks, sack yards and tackle for loss yards, while O’shai Fletcher’s 56 career games played are the ninth most by an active player at the FBS level.

• Kimani Vidal is 577 yards shy of becoming Troy’s all-time leading rusher.