At the halfway mark of the 2017 football season, many fans stand dazed and confused, regardless of which university they root for come Saturdays. Fans across the country have watched their fair share of nearly unreal overtime games, three-score comebacks and powerhouse programs getting embarrassed at home.
More specifically, however, is the roller coaster season Troy has had thus far. The Trojans stand with a respectable 4-2 record, and while reflecting on the first six games is something to be proud of, Troy fans can only wonder if that’s the best-case scenario.
The Trojans opened in a highly anticipated matchup against Boise State, a road game against a long-time Group of Five powerhouse. Troy fell short on the blue turf 24-13, but many fans understood why this loss is excusable.
The now 4-2 Broncos caught Troy with opening week miscues and capitalized.
Troy then trudged through a stretch of three games where it could never seem to put the game away, but won nonetheless.
On paper, the Trojans were 3-1, but fans were left curious about the full potential of a Trojan squad that manhandled a 1-5 Alabama State team, but nearly let Akron steal a win in the final minutes.
Troy came out on top in the conference opener against a New Mexico State team that has proven itself capable, but once again won in an unconvincing manner. The Trojan defense played as expected in these three games, but the offense looked inconsistent at times, putting up the numbers when it had to.
Based on the play up to that point, beating a ranked SEC West team seemed a bit far-fetched. Fans knew Troy had the potential somewhere, but the task seemed a little too much — especially in Baton Rouge — leading many to go ahead and mark the second loss of the year.
Despite the doubts, Troy did the unthinkable. The Trojans won in convincing fashion, presenting themselves as the better football team in nearly every aspect of the game. When social media and the sports world returned to Earth, Troy fans could only wonder, “How?”
Indeed, the team that left Baton Rouge looked like a completely different team from the one that played Akron a week earlier. LSU has since gone on to edge SEC rivals Florida and No. 10 Auburn, leaving little room for argument that LSU is still a quality program; but, for one night, Troy was the better team.
I and other Trojan fans alike then started to connect the dots for the best possible finish Troy could have with the historic win under its belt. I remember thinking how winning out was nearly inevitable given Troy is favored in every game, and heavily favored in all but one.
This led many fans to overlook the unpredictable nature of a rivalry game.
South Alabama came to town with a 1-4 record for an anticipated game in Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Battle for the Belt is overshadowed only by the Iron Bowl in regard to Alabama’s in-state rivalries, and it played out as such.
Troy fell 19-8 in a game that was dominated by the Jaguars. Turnovers, penalties and kicking miscues continued to plague Troy, a team that seemed light years away from the squad that downed LSU on the road.
That brings us to where we stand today. The remainder of the schedule is Sun Belt games, making it anything but easy.
Troy takes on Georgia State in Atlanta this weekend, facing a 3-2 Panther team that is undefeated in conference play. From a realistic standpoint, it is very possible for Troy to finish the regular season 10-2, but no team can be overlooked.
The rushing attack in Jordan Chunn and Jamarius Henderson will give any Sun Belt defense trouble, and teams like Idaho and Arkansas State are poised to give the Trojans tight games later in the season.
Looking forward, there is no doubt that the Trojans can hang with nearly any team put before them, but fans are now skeptical as to which team they will be watching — the team that stumbles over its own feet, or the team that plays with enough confidence to win no matter the circumstances.