By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Larry Blakeney knows what it is like to travel to Mississippi State as an underdog and leave victorious.
The 23-year coaching veteran at Troy did just that in 2001 when his Trojans upset MSU 21-9 following a tornado delay. It is still considered one of the top wins in the program’s history.
“There’s some good memories involved in that one,” Blakeney said. “I think I or somebody on the bus had a cell phone and we got tons of calls on the way home. It was a great win for our program in a time of transition because we weren’t in a conference yet.”
Blakeney and the Trojans nearly accomplished the feat against State the following year as well. But six turnovers proved to be too costly for Troy to overcome as the Bulldogs won 11-8 in Starkville.
State narrowly avoided another upset by the Trojans last fall. The Bulldogs became the first ever Southeastern Conference school to visit Troy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and left with a slim 30-24 victory.
The Trojans, led by quarterback Corey Robinson, rolled up 572 yards in that 2012 contest. Robinson is back for his senior campaign leading an offense averaging 547.3 yards and 44.7 points per game.
“I think we’ve got guys on offense who know we can move the football hopefully on just about anybody and score,” Blakeney said.
Blakeney has seen what Mississippi State’s quarterbacks – Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott – are capable of, as well. Russell threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns against Troy last season.
“Russell was mighty good against us last year,” Blakeney said. “Russell’s a little different than the backup. Prescott is a big, brawny runner. Russell’s not afraid to run it but he’s more of a passer. Both of them are good players and can lead that offense. We have to be ready for whoever they put out there.”
The crowd of 29,013 at Troy a year ago was the largest attendance in school history. However, Blakeney is expecting a raucous crowd at Davis Wade Stadium this weekend with plenty of cowbells in tow.
“Noise will be good for us,” Blakeney said. “I hope they are as loud as they’ve ever been over there. Noise really doesn’t bother our offense. I’m sure since I’m opening my mouth they’ll be the noisiest they’ve ever been in Starkville and that’ll be fine.
“The thing that bothers me is those big SEC football players that we’re going to have to line up and go against.”