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From Troy, Ala., Messenger

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From Troy, Ala., Messenger

Troy's local newspaper:

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Trojans must be ready to play FAU

By Ken Rogers,The Messenger

Just in case you're tempted to look at the win-loss record and conclude Florida Atlantic has no chance to beat Troy University this Saturday, understand that the Owls' one victory this season came at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Those same Ragin' Cajuns beat Troy in overtime 31-28 last week in Lafayette. FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger took the Owls to Lafayette and won 28-10 on Oct. 6.

"Florida Atlantic can beat us," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said this week. "In this league, anybody can beat anybody, anywhere. You have to be ready to play every Saturday."

FAU (1-7 overall, 1-3 Sun Belt) had an open date last week, but spent it in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. School was canceled until this Wednesday and the team didn't practice until Sunday.

"They're stinging a little bit from the hurricane," Blakeney said. "We just came out of the hurricane area in Louisiana and southern Mississippi. We know what they're going through down there."

But football returns Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

"We have to bounce back and get a win," Blakeney said.

Blakeney said freshman Julian Foster, who has started the last two games at quarterback, will start again Saturday. Foster cramped up and had to leave Saturday's game.

Former starter Carl Meadows directed a game-tying drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Smokey Hampton with 22 seconds remaining. The touchdown capped a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback.

In overtime, Lafayette kicked a field goal, then celebrated after the Trojans' Greg Whibbs missed a 37-yard field goal that would have extended the game.

Troy (3-5, 2-2) is 12-1-1 on homecoming under Blakeney. Two of those victories were over Schnellenberger's Owls. Troy won 24-6 last year and 21-6 in 2002.

Florida Atlantic linebacker Shomari Earls said the Trojans appear sound offensively.

"They have a good running attack and potential to make plays in the passing game," Earls said. "They are very sound at what they do."

The game features the two best pass defenses in the Sun Belt Conference. FAU gives up just 171.4 yards per game through the air; Troy allows 192.4 passing yards per game.
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From Troy, Ala., Messenger

From the Montgomery, Ala., Advertiser's online advance edition – this story will be in Saturday's paper. Note reference to the Owls as "one of the league's lightest lightweights."

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ONLINE ADVANCE EDITION
Trojans not giving up

By A. Stacy Long
Montgomery Advertiser

TROY – The Troy Trojans have a clear December schedule in front of them.

Without a Sun Belt Conference championship, they won't get a bowl invitation, and last week's loss to Louisiana-Lafayette left Troy with two league losses. Louisiana-Monroe has none.

The Trojans could start their Christmas shopping, secure in knowing they won't have to add "wish I could be there" to their cards.

Only they aren't ready to give up hope yet.

"The only way we can be sure of anything is to win these next three games," running back Joel Whinghter said. "You never know what's going to happen.

"It's probably over, but you never know. If we don't win all three, it is over."

The Trojans have three games remaining, starting with this afternoon's homecoming game with Florida Atlantic.

They need all three to pull out a winning season. They need all three to stoke their chances – however vastly remote – of a conference championship.

"The only way to have anything to do with anything is to win out," coach Larry Blakeney said.

Troy (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) is looking at that to muster a late-season charge.

"We still have to get motivated every week," linebacker Leverne Johnson said. "We still have three Sun Belt games left and we have to win out to have a winning season.

"If that's not motivation enough, I don't know what is."

Troy will be playing against one of the league's lightest lightweights and facing one of the bigger names in college football.

Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger was the coach for the University of Miami's first national title in 1983. He was also Alabama's offensive coordinator for three national championship teams.

Since FAU added football in January 1999, Schnellenberger has been the program's only coach.

This year, the Owls have struggled to a 1-7 record (1-3 Sun Belt), but their only win came over the team Troy just lost to.

On Oct. 6, FAU won 28-10 at Louisiana-Lafayette, which beat the Trojans 30-27 in overtime last weekend.

"I'm sure when we turn on the film, our guys won't see a 1-7 team," Troy defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell said. "They'll see a challenge."

FAU and Troy will meet for the third time. All three meetings have been for Troy's homecoming and the previous two were both victories for the Trojans.

Last year, Troy beat the Owls 24-6 and held FAU to minus-12 yards rushing on 33 attempts.

"They didn't run the ball too good against us last year," Johnson said. "They throw it a little bit and have a mobile quarterback.

"It shouldn't be anything we can't handle this year. Hopefully."

That would make for a happy homecoming crowd at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium. Blakeney said he worries the players may be distracted by the pregame atmosphere.

"It means a lot of festivities all week and activities going on throughout campus and our program," Blakeney said. "We have to take care of that, but the main thing is we have to win the game."
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