Troy Hosts South Alabama in Annual “Battle for the Belt”

TROY, Ala. – Following a stretch that saw Troy play five of its last six games on the road, the Trojans open a three-game homestand Saturday when they play host to rival South Alabama in the annual “Battle for the Belt” presented by Drive Safe Alabama at The Vet. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m.
This year’s installment of the rivalry marks the first time Troy has hosted the “Battle for the Belt” on a Saturday since 2015. The Trojans (4-4, 2-2 Sun Belt) have won three straight meetings over the Jaguars (5-3, 2-3) following last year’s 29-0 victory in Mobile.
Troy and South Alabama share four common opponents through the first three-quarters of the season; both have wins over Southern Miss and Georgia Southern and both lost at ULM. The only difference is a trip to San Marcos, Texas, where Troy defeated Texas State and South Alabama dropped an overtime contest.
Saturday pits two of the Sun Belt and nation’s top defenses against each other. Troy enters the weekend first in the conference in rushing (110.5) and total defense (314.8), with South Alabama right on its heels in second, allowing 118.5 rushing yards and 320.8 total yards per game.
It has been the Carlton Martial show the last two weeks for Troy’s defense as the former walk-on linebacker has recorded 32 tackles in games at Texas State and Coastal Carolina. He sits second all-time in Sun Belt history with 593 career tackles and is the nation’s tackle leader since the start of the 2019 season.
Last season, Troy limited the Jags to just 239 yards of total offense and 57 rushing yards in the Trojans’ first shutout since 2008.
Offensively, Troy’s running game has found a resurgence the last two weeks thanks to the efforts of freshman back Kimani Vidal. The second-year player for the Trojans led the Sun Belt averaging 120.7 yards in October and enters Saturday’s game riding back-to-back 100-yard games.
Know Your Foe
South Alabama enters November with five wins for the first time since the 2016 campaign, the last time the Jags participated in a bowl game. This weekend’s game is the first of three straight road games for South Alabama to begin the final month of the regular season. The Jaguar offense scored 28 points in the opening 25 minutes in Saturday’s defeat of Arkansas State, capping each of its first four possessions with a touchdown. Jake Bentley is the fourth quarterback in program history to throw for 2,000 yards in a campaign, and he has already matched the program’s standard of 15 passing touchdowns in a year.
Kimani Vidal ranks second in the Group of Five and ninth nationally, averaging 3.84 yards after contact this season (min 115 carries); he was second nationally among freshmen last year with a 3.83 average
• Troy’s win over South Alabama at The Vet in 2019 snapped a four-game winning streak by the visiting team in the “Battle for the Belt”
Gunnar Watson has completed 63-of-95 passes for 677 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions since taking over the starting duties three weeks ago
• Troy is 12-19 during Chip Lindsey‘s tenure on coin tosses and 4-4 this season. Troy has received the opening kickoff in 22-of-31 games under Lindsey and has scored on 13 of those possessions. The Trojans have elected to kick just three times when winning the coin toss
• Troy is throwing the ball 55.33 percent of the time the last three seasons, which is the 11th highest percentage nationally and the sixth highest in the G5
Tez Johnson’s 49 receptions are the third most by a Trojan since at least 2000 through the first eight games of a season — he would need 11 catches to tie Kaylon Geiger for the most through nine games by a Trojan
• Troy is one of just two teams (Iowa) to have three or more interceptions in three or more games this season
• In Al Pogue‘s last four seasons coaching Troy’s cornerbacks (2016-18, 21), Troy has ranked 2nd, 15th, 5th and 3rd nationally in interceptions.
• Troy ranks second nationally since 2016 forcing 1.93 turnovers per game

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