The Troy football team will face the Georgia State Panthers tonight (Thursday) at 6:30 on ESPNU in a nationally televised showdown of Sun Belt East opponents.
Troy is coming off a dominating 45-21 win over Coastal Carolina, and now the Trojans lead all Sun Belt teams with two wins so far this season.
The Trojans used 282 yards rushing, a record number of sacks by the defense and Marcus Jones’ fourth career kickoff return for a touchdown to cruise past the Chanticleers.
Now, the Trojans face a short week amid their third Sun Belt Conference game.
“I think we have to be careful,” said Troy Head Coach Neal Brown. “All these short weeks are different.
“The challenge this week is we are playing the sixth game in a row, and it happens to be on a short week.”
In the Neal Brown era, the Trojans are 3-3 in weeknight games, achieving a 2-1 mark last season.
Georgia State is 2-3 this season, but don’t let their record fool you. The Panthers are coming off a 46-14 dismantling of Louisiana-Monroe, whom the Trojans beat two weeks ago 35-27.
Quarterback Dan Ellington threw for 179 yards and a touchdown off 15-18 passing, and the junior had a touchdown on the ground as well.
True freshman Seth Paige ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.
The defense stepped up too, with two interceptions off ULM quarterback Caleb Evans, who is currently second in the Sun Belt in passing yards.
Add another two lost fumbles by Warhawk receivers, and the Panthers won the turnover battle by a 4-1 margin.
In last year’s meeting, Troy defeated the Panthers 38-16 on the road, and this season the Trojans will look to do more of the same.
The Troy offense has found success in the running back duo of Jabir Daughtry-Frye and B.J. Smith, who combined for 243 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week.
The duo will look to take advantage of the Panthers, who rank 118th in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing 225 yards per game on the ground.
Last week, the Panthers’ defense tightened up and surrendered just 125 rushing yards and 262 yards of offense overall.
Conversely, the Trojans lead the Sun Belt and are 53rd in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 142 yards per game.
Last week, Troy held Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt’s leading team in rushing, to 145 yards, nearly 100 yards under their 242 yards per game average.
Winning the battle in the trenches and continuing to win the turnover battle will be instrumental in taking down the Panthers on Thursday.