This week’s game: MSU (2-0) at Troy (1-1), Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN3.com (Shawn Kenny play-by-play, John Bunting analyst)
Happy Monday, people, if such a thing is possible. It’s been two days since MSU’s big win over Auburn, and in today’s Journal we take a look back at the game. Plenty to like about the Bulldogs’ performance, but certainly some concerns.
We’ll speak with Dan Mullen and others later today at the 1 p.m. press conference. For now, let’s take a look at the Week 3 opponent.
• Last meeting: MSU 11, Troy 8 (Oct. 12, 2002, in Starkville)
• Series: Tied, 1-1.
• Troy on the Web: TroyTrojans.com
• Troy coach: Larry Blakeney (165-92-1, 22nd year)
• Three Troy players to watch: QB Corey Robinson, RB Shawn Southward, LB Brannon Bryan
• Premature review: In our Premature Preview of Troy, we looked at a team that’s had a lot of success but fell on hard times last season. Troy had a tough time in Saturday’s 37-24 loss to UL-Lafayette (coached by former Bulldog assistant Mark Hudspeth). Robinson had a record-setting day, and Troy out-gained ULL 588-389, but all that was negated by the Trojans being minus-3 in the turnover department. The Ragin’ Cajuns turned three turnovers into 14 points.
For all the yards it put up, Troy was not balanced. It had 75 passes versus 27 runs, as Robinson finished 46 of 70 for 485 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. That run/pass ratio was flipped from the previous week, when Troy had 45 runs versus just 22 pass attempts in a 39-29 win over UAB. So no telling which Troy offense we’ll see this weekend.
And what about its defense? It’s only two games, but so far Troy ranks low nationally in all major categories: 81st against the run (176.0 ypg), 93rd in pass efficiency defense (145.61), 81st in total defense (424.0 ypg) and 93rd in scoring defense (33.0 ppg).
Is this a trap game for State? You could say that, especially since it’s on the road. You can bet MSU players and coaches will be talking up Troy, but what really matters is how the Bulldogs psychologically respond when faced with a lesser opponent after a huge win.
As Mullen said yesterday, “There’s different kinds of adversity – the adversity of facing failure and the adversity of how you handle success. This is a very important week for our guys because we’re in a position to do some great things this week.”
According to the folks in Vegas, MSU is a 16.5-point favorite over Troy.