Troy Trojans vs. Clemson Tigers
Troy heads into the 2011 season as one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference, but the Trojans will be put to the test right out of the gate, as they must contend with ACC heavyweight Clemson in both teams’ opener Saturday afternoon. Troy enjoyed its third consecutive bowl berth under head coach Larry Blakeney in 2010, when the Trojans finished 8-5 and won a share of the Sun Belt title for the fifth consecutive year (Troy is 32-5 in Sun Belt play over that stretch). Blakeney, who enters his 21st season in 2011, is among the winningest active coaches in college football. He is 161-82-1, and the 161 wins ranks ninth among active FBS coaches. Only two active coaches, Joe Paterno at Penn State and Frank Beamer at Virginia State have coached longer at one school.
Clemson finished 6-7 a year ago under head coach Dabo Swinney, who enters his fourth year. Last year was defined by missed opportunities in huge games for the Tigers, who nearly upset eventual national champion Auburn in overtime early in the season, and were beaten in close games by ACC teams Miami, North Carolina, Boston College and Florida State. With plenty of talent spread across 14 returning starters, Clemson looks to regain 2009 form when the team won its first ACC Coastal Division crown and played for a conference championship.
We know the line is large but we just don’t see Troy doing much of anything to compete with the Tigers at home. This is the first meeting between the two schools, and Clemson is a perfect 5-0 all-time against Sun Belt foes.