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Troy Ready for Showcase Test

By BJ Bennett
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Saturday's showdown between Troy and Boise State undoubtedly stands as a heavyweight bout.

Tradition, at Troy, is long-standing. Here, the likes of Leodis McKelvin, Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware emerged, just some of the names from a program with 35 all-time NFL Draft picks. This is a place home to three national championship banners, a NAIA crown in 1968 and NCAA Division II titles in 1984 and 1987. In total, the Trojans have won a remarkable 21 conference championships, their first coming, in the Alabama Intercollegiate Conference, back in 1939. Troy, flag waving, is now on the national stage.

Head coach Neal Brown has reestablished the roots of history as the Trojans have gone 22-5 in their last 27 games going to back to the end of his debut season. For point of reference, Alabama is 25-2 in that same span, Auburn is 18-9. Very few teams have been better. 

Just 38 years old, Brown is one of college football's top young coaches. Previously an assistant with the Trojans from 2006-2009, he went onto the become the offensive coordinator at both Texas Tech and Kentucky before returning to Troy as the head man in charge. Brown's leadership has come with direction; the Trojans more than just moved on up, they have appeared in the national polls. This past year, they won at SEC power LSU. Troy, as the season begins, is one of the most highly-regarded Group of Five teams around. 

As the program profile grows, Troy will, quite fittingly, welcome Boise State to southeast Alabama, long the standard-setter for mid-major, or G5, schools. The Trojans have a chance to test themselves against an orange-and-blue barometer, with a potential win coming with a boost literally and figuratively, alike. A triumph over the nationally-ranked Broncos would directly challenge the stats quo.

"We are going to line up and play against a ranked opponent and this is a great opportunity this week to play against Boise," Brown explained. "They are annually a top Group of Five program and that is what we are trying to do at Troy."

Playing in the mountains a year ago, Troy fell to Boise State 24-13 in a first-ever meeting between the two that was a four-point game in the fourth quarter until a final score with 2:12 remaining. The Trojans would only lose one more time all season. Troy rallied to win 11-of-12 outings after the opener and enter the weekend with the fourth-longest winning streak in the nation. Now, with respects to the Broncos, the Trojans get their chance at home.

Saturday's showdown undoubtedly stands as a heavyweight bout. An atmosphere to match the moment awaits. Troy and Boise State have each won 21 games the past two seasons, tying for the eighth-highest such total in college football. Both teams are fresh off conference championships. Traction, possibly towards a New Year's Six bowl bid, awaits. 

Opportunity is something the Trojans have long made the most of. For Troy, the national spotlight is what comes next. With the momentum of a school FBS-record eleven wins, the Trojans have their sights set on even more.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is'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: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports