Troy football, men’s hoops combo ranked 24th in the nation

Sophomore Jordon Varnado had put up double double numbers Friday night with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. With the Trojans' 65-87 loss, they are eliminated from the NCAA tournament. It also caps off a 20-win season and a Sun Belt championship for Phil Cunningham's team.(PHOTO/Joshua Thurston)
Sophomore Jordon Varnado had put up double double numbers Friday night with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. With the Trojans' 65-87 loss, they are eliminated from the NCAA tournament. It also caps off a 20-win season and a Sun Belt championship for Phil Cunningham's team.(PHOTO/Joshua Thurston)
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Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

Troy University’s combo of football and men’s basketball ranked 24th in the nation this year, according to a College Football News article posted Monday.

The article, authored by Pete Fiutak, ranked Division I schools from 1-130, dividing the schools into tiers. The top tier of schools was made up of athletic programs that had a football team play in a bowl game as well as a men’s basketball team that made an NCAA tournament appearance.

The rankings did not take into account the performances of the schools’ women’s basketball teams.

The Trojans finished ahead of Power 5 schools such as Oklahoma (31), Georgia (40), Auburn (41) and Tennessee (42). Alabama was ranked 10th.

The only Group of 5 school that was ranked higher than Troy was Middle Tennessee, which took the 16th slot after an 8-5 season in football and a second-round appearance in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Among Sun Belt teams, the Trojans stood apart from the rest. Arkansas State was the second-highest SBC team, coming in at No. 51. Idaho finished six spots behind Arkansas State, with Appalachian State ranking at 75th.

South Alabama was ranked at 93rd.

The Trojans’ football program played a big role in the school’s ranking, garnering 10 wins on its way to a Dollar General Bowl win over Ohio.

Head Coach Neal Brown’s team also made headlines by being the first Sun Belt team to ever be ranked in the AP Top 25. It was also the first-ever appearance for Troy in a Top 25 poll, and came just after a thrilling 28-24 victory over Appalachian State.

At the helm of the team’s offense was junior quarterback Brandon Silvers, who also got some love from athlonsports.com’s latest QB rankings. Silvers was ranked 28th in the nation out of 130 quarterbacks, with the Sun Belt’s next highest being Idaho’s Matt Linehan at No. 36.

The basketball team also enjoyed its fair share of success, winning 10 of its last 13 games on its way to a Sun Belt championship and an NCAA tournament appearance. Troy was no match for ACC Champion Duke, but making the tournament as the sixth seed in the Sun Belt helped boost Troy’s ranking.

Also notable were sophomore forward Jordon Varnado acquiring All-Sun Belt first-team honors, with junior guard Wesley Person earning All-Sun Belt third team. Varnado’s achievement is the first by a Trojan since the 2009-2010 season.

How this year’s success will translate over into the next is yet to be seen, but both programs will seek to meet and exceed the standard set in 2016-2017.