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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. Ohio

Looking for the most confusing loss of the season? There are many contenders, both on the B.C.S. and non-B.C.S. conference level, but one game stands out: Ohio’s 28-6 loss to Kent State in its season finale. This was an Ohio team coming off seven consecutive wins, helping it overcome a 1-3 start; this was a Kent State team less than a week removed from the dismissal of coach Doug Martin, fired after yet another losing season in charge of the Golden Flashes. In addition, thanks to wins over both Temple and Miami (Ohio), the Bobcats needed merely to sneak past Kent State in order to clinch the MAC East — instead, the Bobcats lost in shocking fashion and Miami upset Temple, sending Ohio from a trip to Detroit for the MAC title game to the New Orleans Bowl. No fault in that, of course — especially when taking into account Ohio prior to Frank Solich’s arrival — but when one thinks that only Kent State prevented Ohio from back-to-back East division titles, well, that’s frustrating.

Troy (7-5, 6-2)

Regular season in review Odds were, based on what we knew — or what we thought we knew in August — that if the Sun Belt winner wasn’t going to be Middle Tennessee State, it would be Troy. This line of reasoning was based on two factors: one, that Troy, as always, was one of the two most talented teams in the Sun Belt; and two, picking Troy to take the conference, based on historical results, was always a safe bet. What do you know: neither Middle Tennessee nor Troy would take home the conference crown. Instead, it was Florida International, lowly F.I.U., which shocked the Trojans in Troy, 52-35, to give it a head-to-head tiebreaker that would decide the Sun Belt’s final standings. That loss hurts, obviously, as does a 14-point loss at Louisiana-Monroe two weeks earlier. Outside of those stumbles, however, this was the same Troy team we’ve grown accustomed to seeing: potent offensively, particularly through the air, though questionable on defense. The Trojans ended the regular season ranked first in the Sun Belt in scoring, averaging 32.9 points per game, but for the second consecutive season allowed at least 31.0 points per game. The defense improved, just not enough.

Regular season high point A 42-13 road win over Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 5. At the time, the nationally televised win seemed to hand Troy the Sun Belt crown; little did we know that Florida International was looming.

Regular season low point The 52-35 loss — at home, no less — to the Golden Panthers. The game was over early: 7-7 entering the second quarter, F.I.U. scored 31 points in the second frame to take a substantial lead into the second half.

Regular season offensive M.V.P. Redshirt freshman quarterback Corey Robinson. As mentioned earlier this week, Robinson was the top newcomer in the Sun Belt. That he took over the starting job was a bit of a surprise: senior Jamie Hampton, a past starter, seemed like the favorite heading into fall camp. Robinson won the job, however, and it seems unlikely that he’ll give it up at any point over the next three seasons.

Regular season defensive M.V.P. Defensive ends Jonathan Massaquoi and Mario Addison. Massaquoi, a sophomore, led Troy in tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (10). Addison, a converted linebacker, was equally strong in his first season in the starting lineup: 45 tackles (14 for loss) and 9 sacks.

Ohio (8-4, 6-2)

Regular season in review A slow start and a disappointing finish; in between, we saw the Ohio team most expected in August. The Bobcats offset a 1-3 start — one that included losses to Toledo and Marshall, the latter by a single point — with seven straight wins, pushing it to 8-3 in advance of that finale at Kent State. So that loss will stick in Ohio’s craw all winter and spring, though that situation can be ameliorated with a win tomorrow over Troy. A win over the Trojans would also give Ohio nine wins for the second consecutive season, a program first. One problem: Ohio has never won a bowl game — 0-4 overall, 0-2 under Frank Solich. If the Bobcats hope to reverse that losing trend, they’ll have to move the ball on offense: this has been a problem all season. While Ohio ranks third in the MAC in scoring, the offense has often struggled both putting together extended drives and controlling the ball. Perhaps the most disappointing factor behind Ohio’s missteps has been the uneven play of quarterback Boo Jackson, who has thrown more interceptions, 16, than touchdowns, 15.

Regular season high point Wins over Miami (Ohio) and Temple. In essence, while the RedHawks left as the East winner, Ohio was the best team in the division in 2009. Head-to-head tiebreakers don’t always decide conference standings, of course.

Regular season low point The loss to Kent State, as already discussed.

Regular season offensive M.V.P. Right tackle Joe Flading. The junior earned all-MAC honors for the second consecutive season, landing on the first-team after earning third-team honors in 2009. Flading, along with A.J. Strum, helped Ohio finish third in the MAC in rushing, averaging 168.8 yards per game.

Regular season defensive M.V.P. Defensive end Stafford Gatling, a second-team all-MAC selection. He led Ohio in tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (6.5), tying for fourth in the conference in the former category. Gatling’s presence helped the Bobcats finish second in the MAC and 14th nationally against the run — 114.3 yards per game, down from 154.5 yards per game in 2009.

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  1. Matt Farren says:


  2. Bob J says:

    In 1968, my junior year at Willamette University, the Bearcats played Troy State in the NAIA championship semi-final game. Beside the fact that Troy State was really good, they discovered that one of their receivers was much faster than one of our cornerbacks and beat that like a drum. Final score, 63-10.

    Go Bobcats.

  3. trojanbrutha says:

    The next week, they beat Tx A&I for the NAIA National Championship…I had to dig through the nedia guide to find that. Nice bit of history :-)

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