Troy Owns the Sun Belt — Again
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 6, 2010
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.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be, even if some believed this to be Middle Tennessee’s year. The Blue Raiders nearly took the Sun Belt in 2009, after all, losing the conference title only due to the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Trojans.
Count me among the group that believed this to be season for Middle Tennessee, though that was before Dwight Dasher’s four-game suspension. I thought the Blue Raiders had fewer question marks than Troy; not that the defense wasn’t a concern — the front seven needed to be rebuilt.
I was wrong, clearly. The Trojans took it to the Blue Raiders last night, both through the air and on the ground. When the dust settled, after 60 minutes, Troy passed for 269 yards, rushed for 251 yards and scored at least twice in each fashion. Quarterback Corey Robinson looks like a player: he completed 27 of 38 attempts for 266 yards and 3 scores, the latter total giving him 11 touchdowns on the season.
Five players got into the mix on the ground: DuJuan Harris led the way with 80 yards rushing, but Shawn Southward added 62 yards, Chris Anderson 57 yards, T.J. Mitchell 47 yards and the great Jerrel Jernigan 17 yards. The only bad news from this Troy offense? Well, those 12 penalties for 107 yards must be avoided, for starters. The worst news, however, was the likely season-ending injury suffered by quarterback Jamie Hampton — while a reserve, Hampton was an important team leader.
One of my biggest keys entering this game was the battle between Troy’s front seven against Middle Tennessee’s own imposing rushing attack. Guess what: Troy dominated the line of scrimmage. The Blue Raiders rushed for 26 yards on 28 carries, thanks to a solid Troy pass rush. Dwight Dasher had a few moments, but his rustiness was clear. He passed for only 173 yards despite making 37 attempts, a paltry 4.7 yards per attempt average. He rushed for only 26 yards on 14 carries, though he did score twice.
What if Dasher had not been on a four-week suspension? Would this have been a better game? Maybe. Dasher would have been far better; by extension, so would have Middle Tennessee. That’s playing a dangerous game, however. The truth is far easier to acknowledge.
The Sun Belt belongs to Troy. This is Troy’s league. It’s been that way for the last four years; better make it five.
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