What's that old saying? That a team's misery (and destruction) is a head-coach-who-has-the-unenviable-task-of-replacing-a-legend's gift?
The Troy Trojans were slated to battle the UAB Blazers in 2015 and 2016 but instead - after the latter program's... demise (#FreeUAB!) - gets dates against Charleston Southern and Southern Miss. Trojans are said to be great warriors, but that doesn't mean that they can't pick and choose their battles, right?
What do replacing UAB with Charleston Southern and Southern Miss mean for Troy? TL;DR two more probable wins over two seasons. For the long story, read on.
From UAB to the FCS
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers are an FCS football team. Not only that, but they are a bad FCS football team. In a nutshell, that's the #hottake on how replacing UAB with CSU makes life easier for Troy and head coach Neal Brown. That says that you look at the Buccaneers' big, fat 77-151 all-time record and dismiss them. It says that you scoff at their lone Big South Conference championship because it 1) came during a 7-4 season and 2) the sun will shine on every team at least once in a blue moon.
Critics of this #hottake will single out the 2007 Appalachian State Mountaineers, but you'll counter that they are singling out one game. (You'll point out that while Troy isn't 2007 Michigan, Charleston Southern likely isn't 2007 App State.) You'll then discuss every other game that an FCS team plays against an FBS team, as well as Charleston Southern's not-so-glorious history against Division I opponents: 15 games is a small sample, sure, but it's still bigger than just "2007 App State."
There are reasons for concern if you're Troy. While buccaneers typically travel by sea, this bunch excelled on the ground: in the FCS, Charleston Southern ranked No. 16 in rushing offense and No. 29 against the run. Pair that with an excellent time of possession and a good turnover margin, and the recipe is simple for CSU—you run to win the game.
Of course, you might have to sustain Troy's best shot in the process. The team didn't excel in 2014 but it did have some bright spots. Quarterback Brandon Silvers will be a sophomore in 2015 and should build on a solid finish to last season—he'll rely on a solid rushing offense to help offset what was a futile passing attack.
But mostly, Underdog Dynasty is buying Troy stock and I'll double down on that prediction. Not only that, but the Trojans play in the Sun Belt Conference. They're used to excellent rushing offenses by now.
From UAB to the FBS
Similarly, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are an FBS team but also a bad one—oh, that's not coming from me. I enlisted the help of our own resident Southern Miss expert Patrick McGee and he described the Golden Eagles as "a below average team struggling to get wins."
Where McGee sees a program that won three times as many games in 2014 as it did in the previous two seasons combined, I see one that still only won three games. (That's as many games as Troy itself won in 2014, granted.) Southern Miss won three games mostly on the strength of Nick Mullens' arm, as the passing offense is just about the only statistic of note where the team ranked above average (i.e. at No. 34). With the addition of TCU transfer Tyler Matthews, any hope the Golden Eagles have at soaring high in the sky will come with the pass.
Unfortunately for Southern Miss, one area where Troy did secretly excel came in defending the pass. The UAB Blazers, meanwhile, were better on the ground than by air and would have been better positioned to attack the Trojans, who couldn't have done worse against the run in 2014 even if they had tried.
"Historically Southern Miss has had a much better football product than UAB, although that hasn't been the case in recent years." But ever the optimist, McGee explains to me that Southern Miss might be a better team than UAB by the time this series starts in 2016.
A year is both long and short, and Troy and Southern Miss (and UAB, were it to be reborn again) can and will change before 2016. But what can't change is that in 2014, the Blazers proved they were a better team and beat the Golden Eagles 45-24 in Hattiesburg.
You know what they say, right? You can't argue with #facts.