The summer-long wait is over--football season is here.
For the Troy Trojans, game-time comes 48 hours earlier than most--Thursday night at Middle Tennessee. This season opener may be the most significant in team history.
For the first time in head coach Larry Blakeney's tenure at Troy, the Trojans will open the season against a conference opponent.
"I'm not real fond of it. But you know, we're gonna try to deal with it and try to find a way to eek out a win in Murfreesboro,” Blakeney says.
Blakeney's players don't share in their coach's frustration with the schedule, though. They all see the game at middle tennessee it as an opportunity to send a message.
"You can't ask for more,” says wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.
“You're on ESPN2 on Thursday night with the whole nation watching."
“It's one of our biggest rivalries,” adds quarterback Jamie Hampton. “It's for the trophy. I mean you have to get hyped up and if you can't you shouldn't be playing college football."
The Trojans have won three of the last four meetings, including a 45 to seven blow-out in 2007...keeping the coveted Palladium trophy in Troy.
“It's a pretty neat trophy...it means alot to Troy," remarks linebacker Boris Lee.
“It means alot to me, it sits in my office,” adds Blakeney. “It never leaves my office when we are in possession of the trophy."
The task of retaining possession comes much earlier this year, though, meaning the Sunbelt gets a status check right off the bat.
"Everybody will learn alot about our league immediately. The winner coming out will be on top of the conference world. The loser will be behind the eight ball.”
Kick-off is at 6:30 Thursday night.