After a few weeks, it became clear Troy was one of the best Sun Belt teams in 2022.
The Trojans lost to No. 21-ranked Ole Miss to open the year, and then they fell at App State by four points in their third game of the season. But they didn’t lose again.
Troy went on to go 7-1 against Sun Belt teams during the regular season, culminating in a 45-26 win over Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Championship and an 18-12 victory over No. 22 UTSA in the Cure Bowl.
But now the question is, can Troy repeat as the champion of the conference?
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Troy Football’s Sun Belt Title Odds
Troy has the best odds to win the Sun Belt at +300, via BetMGM.
Troy Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Troy’s win total Over/Under is 8.5, with Under 8.5 at -110 and Over 8.5 at -110.
Troy Football’s Schedule
9/2 vs Stephen F. Austin
9/9 at Kansas State
9/16 vs JMU
9/23 vs Western Kentucky
9/30 at Georgia State
10/7 vs Arkansas State
10/14 at Army
10/28 at Texas State
11/2 vs South Alabama
11/11 at ULM
11/18 vs Louisiana
11/25 at Southern Miss
Bold indicates Sun Belt contests.
Key Troy Football Returners
2022 All-Sun Belt 1st Team
DL T.J. Jackson
DB Reddy Steward
RB Kimani Vidal
DL Richard Jibunor
DL Javon Solomon
DB Dell Pettus
Kimani Vidal Hoping To Fuel Troy’s Offense
Kimani Vidal is one of the best Sun Belt running backs because he can do so much for the Trojans. He’s earned All-Sun Belt honors each of the past three years.
However, 2022 was his breakout season. He was third in the Sun Belt with 1,132 rushing yards and was tied for fourth with 10 touchdowns. And in the past three years, he’s caught 74 passes for 499 yards. Troy also picked up running back Asa Martin from Memphis to give the position group some depth.
Gunnar Watson appears to be the starter at quarterback for Troy again in 2023. The Sun Belt Championship MVP threw for 2,818 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions with a 61% completion rate last year. Troy also added Goose Crowder, a signal caller from West Virginia, this offseason.
Wide receiver Deshon Stoudemire returns for Troy after ranking third on the team with 507 yards as he also tallied 41 receptions and two touchdowns. Jabre Barber is also back after recording 351 yards and two touchdowns on 25 receptions. Troy also added wideouts Chris Lewis (Kentucky) and Landon Parker (Wofford) as well as tight end Brody Dalton (UAB) via the transfer portal to give the team some more pass catchers.
After ranking 11th in the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game (116.3) and allowing the most sacks in the league (46), Troy’s offensive line loses three of its primary starters. That includes center Jake Andrews, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Patriots this year.
However, Daniel King and Grant Betts both return after starting at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Troy also added transfer offensive linemen Blake Austin (East Tennessee State), Tavon Matthews (East Tennessee State), and Eli Russ (Oklahoma State).
Troy’s Defense Will Be Strong Again With T.J. Jackson And Reddy Steward Returning
Troy’s defense was its strength last year, ranking second in the Sun Belt with 17.1 points per game allowed and third with 326.4 yards per game allowed.
The Trojans should be strong on that side of the ball again this year. They return six of their top 11 tacklers from a season ago, and five of them were all-conference selections in 2022.
Defensive end T.J. Jackson and cornerback Reddy Steward were all-conference first-team picks last year. Jackson led Troy with 14.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks while adding 55 tackles, three quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles. Steward totaled a team-high three interceptions and 12 pass breakups while adding 65 tackles and two quarterback hurries.
Defensive linemen Richard Jibunor and Javon Solomon were on the All-Sun Belt second and third teams, respectively, last year. Jibunor paced the Trojans with seven quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles while recording 41 tackles, 11 for loss, and 7.5 sacks. Solomon added 44 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and six quarterback hurries.
Troy defensive back Dell Pettus is also returning after making the all-conference honorable mention list as he tallied 66 tackles. The Trojans added former Louisville defensive end Zach Edwards, former Iowa safety Reggie Bracy, and former Southern Utah cornerback Damaje Yancey to help on defense as well.
Troy Football Season Prediction
Troy won’t win the Sun Belt title but will win at least 10 games in 2023.
The Trojans have another strong roster this year. I could see them being favored in every regular season matchup this year except their game at Kansas State.
I think Troy will be 3-1 in its non-conference slate with wins over Stephen F. Austin, Western Kentucky, and Army. And I see the Trojans losing two Sun Belt games at most.
Troy should be able to take care of Georgia State, Arkansas State, Texas State, ULM, Louisiana, and Southern Miss. The most difficult Sun Belt matchups will be JMU and South Alabama, but both of those games might also go the Trojans’ way because they’re at Troy.
While I do ultimately see Coastal Carolina winning the league, Troy will win many games again this year.