Trojans’ “Battle for the Belt” set for national stage Thursday in Mobile
TROY, Ala. (troytrojans.com) – Winners of four straight games, Troy travels to Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Thursday night for the “Battle for the Belt” when the Trojans takes on in-state rival South Alabama. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Off to the best start in its FBS history, Troy (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) heads to Mobile looking to bring the “Battle for the Belt” trophy back to Troy and achieve bowl eligibility. There will be a strong contingent of Troy fans in the stadium as Troy students will pack eight charter buses for the game and the full Sound of the South Marching Band will also be in attendance.
In addition to the national broadcast on ESPNU, the game will be streamed live on WatchESPN. The Troy Sports Radio Network will have full coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the full radio network and on TroyTrojans.com.
The Trojans are off to their historic start because of the combined play of all three phases of the game. Troy leads the Sun Belt in eight statistical categories across offense, defense and special teams.
Troy leads the league averaging 39.2 points per game – 8.9 points ahead of second place Georgia Southern – and total offense with 464.3 yards per game. Defensively, the Trojans are the best in the Sun Belt against the run (98.8 yards per game), while ranking second allowing just 19.7 points per game. Troy’s 31.1 kickoff return average also leads the league, while kicker/punter Ryan Kay has twice been named Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week.
A balanced offensive attack has keyed Troy’s success on that side of the ball as the Trojans are nearly 50-50 with the run and the pass. Jordan Chunn leads the Sun Belt with 112.2 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season, while Brandon Silvers leads the league with 14 touchdown passes. Emanuel Thompson and Deondre Douglas and tied for the Sun Belt lead with four touchdown receptions each.
On the other side of the ball, Troy leads the country with its 14 interceptions and the Trojans have picked off multiple passes in five straight games. Troy also ranks eighth nationally against the run and the Trojans’ 73.3 rushing yards allowed in conference play are the third fewest nationally.
South Alabama (3-3, 0-3) has had a rollercoaster season with victory over Mississippi State and then-No. 19 San Diego State, but the Jaguars are winless in three Sun Belt Conference games.
The Jaguars’ defense is fourth in the league allowing just 25.5 points per game, while their pass defense is tops in the conference allowing 142.8 yards per game. Offensively, the Jags are averaging 23.8 points and 360.8 yards per game.
“Overall, we are 3-0 in the conference, that’s what we were hunting,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said. “That was the goal last week and we achieved that. We overcame adversity, which I think speaks to our football team. We got behind in the third quarter, things were going poorly, and we found a way to get it back on track and win the game.
“The rivalry piece of it I don’t think you try to down play that because it is what it is. I think you should be 100 percent honest with your football team. I think that this age group sees right through when you’re not being honest with them. I won’t try to hide the fact that it is a rivalry game. A lot of these kids know each other, they played against each other in high school.”
- Troy’s four-game winning streak is tied for the 12th longest active streak in the country, while the Trojans’ four-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak is tied for the ninth longest active streak in the country.
- Troy is off to a 3-0 start in Sun Belt Conference play for the sixth time in school history; the Trojans have won the Sun Belt title the five previous times.
- Brandon Silvers ranks sixth among active quarterbacks with a 64.6 career completion percentage, while his 521 completions are the 20th most among active players.
- Troy has outscored its opponents 112-50 in the first half of games this season; the Trojans have not allowed a first half touchdown in its three Sun Belt Conference games this year