A game day primer for Troy Trojans fans
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - One of the top bowl matchups of the season kicks off Friday when No. 23 Troy takes on No. 22 UTSA in the Duluth Trading Cure Bowl in the only bowl game featuring two conference champions. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET) from Exploria Stadium, and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Both teams enter bowl season riding the nation’s third-longest winning streak having won 10 straight games. Troy (11-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) rolled off seven straight Sun Belt victories following the heartbreaking Hail Mary loss at App State, coupled with non-conference wins over Western Kentucky and Army and the SBC Championship win over Coastal Carolina.
UTSA (11-2, 8-0 C-USA) rolled through Conference USA undefeated, including a rematch victory over North Texas in the title game. The Roadrunners also boast a non-conference win over Army this season, with their two losses coming to Houston and Texas.
Troy had a flair for the dramatic for most of the season, winning six of its first seven games in the win streak by nine points or fewer, including one-score victories in five of those games.
However, the Trojans’ offense has found its rhythm the last three weeks averaging 42.3 points per game; in turn, the games have been a little more one-sided, with Troy winning by an average of 22 points.
The Trojans have scored on 50 percent or more of its possession in the last three games and 62.5 percent in two of those games after not topping the 27.3 percent mark in the previous four games.
Couple an offense that is clicking at the right time with one of the top defenses in the country, and you get the results that Troy has produced to close out the year.
Troy ranks in the top 22 nationally in scoring defense (8th), pass efficiency defense (16th), total defense (19th) and rushing defense (22nd). The Trojans have been successful because of their ability to limit the big play. Troy has allowed the fourth-fewest plays of 20-plus yards this season and on just 3.77 percent of opponent snaps, the second-lowest average nationally.
Why is this important? UTSA enters the Cure Bowl ninth in total offense, 12th in scoring and 12th in passing. The Roadrunners have 240 plays of 10-plus yards this season, the second most in the country, led by quarterback Frank Harris, the C-USA Player of the Year, who ranks third nationally in completion percentage and fourth in total offense.
• The Cure Bowl is the ONLY bowl game to feature a pair of conference champions ... it is Troy’s fourth all-time bowl appearance against a C-USA team (2-1).
• Troy’s seven Sun Belt Conference titles during its run in the league (2004) are the most in league history. Troy’s seven conference titles are the sixth most in the country since 2006 (Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Boise St.).
• Head coach Jon Sumrall is one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award.
• Troy is ranked in all three major polls for the first time in school history ... the Trojans’ No. 23 AP ranking is the highest in school history after spending a week at No. 25 in 2016. Troy’s appearance in the Coaches Poll (No. 24) and CFP Poll (No. 24) are both firsts.
• Troy is 5-0 in close games at the half (score differential is four points or less) ... The five wins are the second most in the country.
• Carlton Martial was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s top player who began their career as a walk-on for the second straight season.
• Troy scored on 50 percent or more of its possessions in the final three games of the season and 62.5 percent of its possessions in two of its final three games -- in the previous four games, Troy didn’t top 27.3 percent.
• Six of Troy’s last 10 touchdown drives have consumed fewer than two minutes off the clock.
• Troy ranks 12th nationally with a +6.69 scoring advantage in the second half; Troy’s +5.92 margin in the fourth quarter ranks second behind just Michigan.
• From 2005-21, Troy was 11-73 when trailing at the half and 5-52 when scoring less than 21 points ... this season, Troy is 4-1 when trailing at the half and 4-1 when scoring less than 21 points.
• Carlton Martial is the ONLY player at the FBS level since at least 2000 to have at least 405 tackles, six interceptions and 41 tackles for loss in their career.
• Troy has allowed the fourth-fewest plays of 20-plus yards this season (34), the fourth-fewest 20-plus yards runs (6) and the 12th-fewest 20-plus yard passes (28). Troy has allowed plays of 20-plus yards on just 3.77 percent of its defensive snaps, the second fewest in the country (Iowa).
• Troy posted nine passing plays of 15-plus yards and six passing plays of 20-plus yards in the Sun Belt Championship Game.
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