September 24, 2008

Scouting the Trojans

After a week off, Oklahoma State returns to action this week against Troy.

Last season, the Cowboys traveled to southern Alabama and got whacked by the Trojans, 41-23. OSU gave up 562 yards of total offense in front of a national television audience on ESPN2. It was a debacle for the Cowboys on every level.

But fortunately, that's all in the past for the Pokes. Now the Trojans get to come to Stillwater and OSU has a shot at revenge. Will they be able to get it? Let's find out.

TROJANS AT A GLANCE
Location:
Troy, Ala. (about 150 miles south/southeast of Birmingham)
2007 record: 8-4 (6-1 Sun Belt)
Game time: 6:05 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater
Current record: 2-1 (1-0)
Last week: A 28-10 loss at Ohio State
Current ranking: None, but OSU is 27th in the latest AP Poll.
Fact of the week: Troy University has a main campus in Troy, but it also features campuses in Dothan, Montgomery and Phenix City.

THE BIG THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…
… the Trojan offense:
Coming into this week, Troy ranks 20th in overall total offense, putting up an average of 450 yards per game. Most of that comes through the air, as the Trojans average 258 passing ypg (31st nationally). As for the run game, they average 192 ypg (30th). They're also 30th in scoring offense, putting up about 35 points an outing. Quarterback Jamie Hampton has 677 yards passing and six touchdowns on the season, with 323 yards and four TDs coming against Alcorn State on Sept. 13. DuJuan Harris ranks 52nd in rushing nationally, putting up an average of 80.33 ypg. He hasn't done a lot since the season-opener at Middle Tennessee State, however, where he rushed for 148 yards and two scores. Receiver Jerrel Jernigan ranks 10th nationally in receptions, reeling in around seven catches a game. He has 22 catches for 203 yards and two scores on the year.
… the Trojan defense: Overall, the unit is currently ranked 11th in the nation, keeping opponents to only 237 ypg. Their strength is clamping down on the passing game. They rank fourth in pass efficiency defense (85.21 ypg) and fifth in overall pass defense (129 ypg). As far as defending the ground game, they're 41st nationally, allowing around 108 ypg. The unit fares well in keeping opponents out of the end zone, ranking 25th in scoring defense, allowing 15 points per game.
… the coach: He's taken Troy higher and higher over his 18 years with the Trojans. Larry Blakeney started when the program was still in Div. II. Since then, he's guided the Trojans up through Div. I-AA and then to Div. I in 2001. The 1970 Auburn graduate has led the Trojans to 11 winning seasons in his time there. Six of those have featured seasons of 10 wins or more, including an undefeated regular season in 1995. The past two seasons, the Trojans have won eight games each of the last two years.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
Obviously this has been a game of interest for the OSU program since last year's devastating and embarrassing loss. Now the time has come for the Cowboys to try and officially put the 2007 debacle behind them. They should be able to do it. Yes, Troy is a very solid mid-major program and scared Ohio State for three quarters last weekend, but the Trojans aren't exactly road warriors, especially against BCS conference schools. They're 0-15 the past five seasons on the road against the big boys. That's a streak the Cowboys will continue on Saturday, though it might be a shootout. OSU still has some issues on defense and Troy can put up both yards and points, so it could be another Houston-style shootout. Look for the Pokes to sweat it out for awhile, but eventually open things up for a 48-34 victory.

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