When the subject of college football is brought up in conversation, nobody mentions the Sun Belt conference.
When the preseason discussion of "BCS busting" is brought up, the Sun Belt conference is again forgotten.
This may be the year to change these perceptions, as the Troy Trojans are ready to make noise on the college football scene.
Who are the Troy Trojans?
The Trojans began playing Division I football at the Bowl subdivision level in 2001. That same year Troy, then known as Troy State, defeated Mississippi State, 21-9.
The Trojans were new to Division I and already had a marquee win.
In 2004, Troy defeated Marshall and then No. 17 Missouri to start the season. The Trojans played in their first bowl game that year.
The 2006 Trojans had Florida State on upset alert before falling 24-17. And by the end of the season, Troy was crushing Rice in the R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl by a score of 41-17.
The year 2007 saw the Trojans crush Oklahoma State, 41-23, ending the season with an 8-4 record and no bowl appearance.
Troy put a scare into two teams in 2008, as Ohio State and LSU had tough games against the gritty Trojans.
This season sees Troy back off on the "body bag" games against top ten teams and look for games that they can win. Troy will play just one top ten team, Florida, in 2009.
Can the Trojans make a BCS Bowl and push the prestige of the Sun Belt Conference?
Let's look at the Schedule:
September 3, 2009: At Bowling Green: The Trojans open the season on the road against the MAC. It's not going to be an easy win at all, but the Trojans can win this game. Quarterback Levi Brown returns with a talented group of receivers.
September 12, 2009: At Florida: The one loss that I can promise. It would be an amazing upset, one of monumental proportions, if the Trojans come out the victors.
September 19, 2009: Home against UAB: Conference USA and in-state rival UAB shouldn't be too much for the Trojans.
September 26, 2009: At Arkansas State: The Red Wolves will be a tough team, but Troy is the class of the Sun Belt, and should be the favorites on the road.
October 6, 2009: Home against Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders come to Movie Gallery Stadium with former Troy Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin as new OC for the Blue Raiders. But Troy is tough at home—just ask Oklahoma State.
October 17, 2009: At Florida International: A team that once was a conference joke has gotten serious. FIU and T.Y. Hilton have actually won some games recently. Look for a close Trojan victory.
October 24, 2009: home against North Texas: The Mean Green are not as tough as they used to be. North Texas coach Todd Dodge will bring some points, but the defense of the Mean Green will allow too many.
October 31, 2009: home against Louisiana-Monroe: The War Hawks will give the Trojan linebackers trouble, especially quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster. The running attack of ULM will be neutralized by linebackers Borris Lee and Bear Woods, which will lead the Trojans to the "W."
November 7, 2009: At Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers are officially a Divison I squad, but this team is still mostly I-AA talent. Trojans take this one.
November 14, 2009: At Arkansas: The game the Trojans must win to be BCS-ready. A loss here makes the BCS talk worthless. If Troy can beat Arkansas, it can allow them to request an invitation to a BCS game.
November 21, 2009: home against Florida Atlantic: The Owls have won two straight bowl games and still have quarterback Rusty Smith to lead the offense. This will be a battle of two good Sun Belt teams, and home field will decide this game for Troy.
November 28, 2009: At Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin' Cajuns will miss their running back Tyrell Fenroy and quarterback Michael Desmoreaux. The Ragin' Cajuns fall short of upsetting Troy.
If Troy goes 11-1, do they make a BCS bowl?
I am not sure that is even possible, but the conversation deserves recognition.
Let's say Troy doesn't go to BCS bowl, will it get an invite to a more prestigious bowl? Will the class of the Sun Belt get a shot to represent against the best of the other conferences?
Time will tell.