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A Historic Triumph For Troy

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Saturday night in Death Valley, the Trojans made history with a signature victory: 24-21 over nationally-ranked LSU.

We played physical, we ran the football, we ate up clock, our defense tackled we swarmed to the football and I'm really proud of our guys.
~Neal Brown

Troy football has an impressive history. The Trojans boast a fistful of national title rings, have played in six bowl games since moving to college football's highest level in 2001 and peaked in the national polls last fall. Former players include the likes of Leodis McKelvin, Lawrence Tynes, Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware, all former first round NFL Draft picks or two-time Super Bowl winners. Saturday night in Death Valley, the Trojans made history with a signature victory: 24-21 over nationally-ranked LSU.

Not only did Troy become the first Sun Belt team all-time to beat a ranked SEC opponent, the Trojans did so on the Tigers' Homecoming and were paid $985,000 to do it. The win immediately goes on Troy's very short list of the program's most-impressive ever; this triumph now stands alongside the trophies.

"Huge win, huge win for our program. Very proud of our guys," head coach Neal Brown exclaimed. "Some of you follow Troy, some of you don't, but we didn't just start playing football tonight. We've been playing for a long time. We've won three national championships; we've played against the 'who's who's' of college football over the last 15 years and had some wins at our place."

On a field where top-ranked Alabama scored just ten points a year ago and against a team that prevented Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson from scoring a touchdown last season, the Trojans held a 17-0 late third quarter lead before finishing with a thrilling three-point victory. Troy was 10-of-18 on third downs, held LSU without a single third-down conversion and forced four turnovers, including a game-winning interception by standout Blace Brown.

The Trojans were the first non-conference visitor to win in Baton Rouge since 2000, snapping a streak of 49 consecutive victories.   

Senior running back Jordan Chunn rushed for a career-high 191 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Trojans ran for over 200 yards and three scores; Troy, and Arkansas in 2015, are the only offenses in the Tigers' last 28 games to reach such milestones. On both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Trojans set a dominant tone.

"That wasn't a fluke win," Brown continued. "We played physical, we ran the football, we ate up clock, our defense tackled we swarmed to the football and I'm really proud of our guys."

Currently leading the college football headlines, Troy has already been nationally relevant; people have long been talking about the Trojans, now they are listening. This is a program on the rise. Troy, in addition to the aforementioned success in different classifications, won ten games for the first time as an FBS member this past season and has now won eight-of-ten contests in the Sun Belt Conference. Since a transition year in his 2015 debut, the 37-year old Brown is 14-4.

"We've done a lot of really good things over the last two years. We were ranked in the top 25 at a certain point last year, we won 10 games, we won a bowl game, but are we different."

The Trojans are clearly a "Group of Five" power; in primetime, in Death Valley, they just proved they are even more than that.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports