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Posts Tagged ‘Corey Robinson’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    Sun Belt Offenses Catch Up With Troy

    While the underdog portion of the Sun Belt was moving forward, Troy was standing still. I don’t mean this in the big picture, but in one specific category: totals plays. Consider this:

    –Troy led the Sun Belt in total plays run from scrimmage in each year from 2007-10. The Trojans averaged 980.3 plays per season, running at least 972 plays each year with a high of 997 plays in 2010.

    –The Trojans’ offense was on the field for 867 plays last fall, which tied Florida International for fifth-most in the Sun Belt. Arkansas State led the way with 1,016 plays, followed by Louisiana-Monroe with 939 plays, Middle Tennessee with 938 plays and Louisiana-Lafayette with 893 plays.

    –And the Trojans weren’t doing more with less. Last year’s offense averaged 5.3 yards per play, a program-low since 2007. Troy averaged 5.9 yards per play in 2010; 6.5 yards per play in 2009. Both totals paced the conference. Two teams, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, tied for the S.B.C. lead at 5.7 yards per play last fall.

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      No. 100: Troy

      Troy is – or was, or was and will be again – a paragon of consistency in a sport largely devoid of programs with staying power. This is especially true on the non-B.C.S. conference level, where few programs have shown an ability to reach the top of a conference and stay there, fighting off all challengers, for a period of time beyond one or two seasons. Troy dominated the Sun Belt for five years, from 2006-10, and no, dominate is not too strong a word. The Trojans won 77.3 percent of their conference games over these five seasons, the fourth-best conference winning percentage in college football – behind Boise State, T.C.U., Ohio State and Virginia Tech. That’s some elite company. And that’s one reason why it’s safe to say that Troy will be back, even if this swoon last two years, not just one.

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        No. 68: Troy

        Troy’s faced challengers before, upstarts who wanted to take the Trojans’ place as the Sun Belt’s top dog. First it was the built-in presence of North Texas, which had won three straight conference titles from 2002-4; then came Middle Tennessee State, followed by Florida Atlantic, perhaps followed by Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette. All have tried but failed to hang with the Trojans, putting together fine individual seasons but, more often than not, falling behind Troy when it comes to the long-distance race. Now, Florida International is the latest to throw its hat in the ring. Will Troy shrug aside its latest challenger as it has so many before, or do the Golden Panthers have the sort of staying power needed to keep pace with the Sun Belt’s premier program?

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          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.

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            2010 End-of-Year Awards: Sun Belt

            Every dog has its day, as Florida International can now attest. To say that the program’s foray into the F.B.S. did not go according to plan would be an understatement: while rival Florida Atlantic had already tasted success, F.I.U. entered the 2010 season with a career winning percentage of 26.1 percent — 24 wins, 68 losses. Elsewhere, 6-6 might be a supreme disappointment; even Sun Belt foe Middle Tennessee State, the preseason favorite, must be disappointed in its .500 finish. This isn’t elsewhere, however: it’s Florida International. After going 6-6, F.I.U. breaks out the band.

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              Troy Owns the Sun Belt — Again

              New year, same story: Troy scores, M.T.S.U. watches.

              What’s domination? It’s when you own a five-game winning streak over the second-best team in your own conference. It’s when this same opponent circles your trip to their house in red ink way back over the summer, when the schedules first came out — when the loud, boisterous home crowd color-coordinates — yet you still open up a 21-7 halftime lead, a 35-7 fourth quarter lead and cruise to a 29-point victory. When you’ve won at least a share of four consecutive conference championships, whether it’s the Sun Belt or otherwise. Don’t look now, but Troy owns the Sun Belt — again.

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                Dasher’s Back, Just In Time

                Dwight Dasher's back under center, and just in time.

                We knew in August — we knew in May, even — that the Sun Belt season would come down to this: Troy and Middle Tennessee State, in Murfreesboro, with the key head-to-head tiebreaker on the line. It’s early, but there’s little reason to think we’ll see a Sun Belt team other than the Trojans or Blue Raiders take the conference crown; Louisiana-Lafayette is 2-1 in Sun Belt play, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have barely squeaked past two of the conference’s worst: Arkansas State by seven, North Texas by a single point. Even with both Troy and the Blue Raiders undergoing a slight period of transition, it’s clear that little has changed — all has gone according to plan.

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                  The Countdown

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