The Trojans are used to playing on large stages. They've been doing it since becoming a Division I-A football school in 2001. In six-plus seasons, Troy has notched victories over three BCS conference schools – Mississippi State, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Even games Troy has lost at major BCS powers have sometimes had close final scores. Since 2001, Troy has at least played two BCS schools every season.
One of the last times the Trojans took on a BCS opponent it was in front of a national television audience on Sept. 14, 2007, and Troy did not disappoint in a 41-23 victory over visiting Oklahoma State. Quarterback Omar Haugabook passed for a career-best 371 yards and a touchdown and added two running scores in a dominating performance by the Trojans.
Coming off losses road losses to start the season vs. ranked teams Arkansas and Florida, the Trojans played an emotional game in front of their home crowd at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium. Troy forced four Oklahoma State turnovers and took advantage of its speed advantage on offense. Not even a 41-minute lightning delay could slow Troy.
The Cowboys had no answer for Haugabook, who threw for 223 yards and ran for 33 in the first half.
Troy outgained the Cowboys 562-432 and earned its second win over a Big 12 opponent. The first came on Sept. 9, 2004, over then-No. 17 Missouri. That game was also played at Troy and was won by the Trojans, 24-14, in front of a national TV audience.
Troy had a lot go right against the Tigers. Wide receiver Jason Samples threw a touchdown pass. Offensive lineman Junior Louissaint even scored a touchdown when he recovered a fumble and ran it 63 yards into the end zone. Quarterback Aaron Leak only completed 7 of 20 passes and threw three interceptions. But one of those seven completions was one of the biggest in Trojan history. He rolled left and connected with a diving Samples in the end zone early in the fourth quarter to give Troy a 10-point lead that would be the final margin.
"We don't have to beat them 365 days," said Larry Blakeney, Troy's long time head coach, after the victory. "We just have to beat them for one 60-minute segment of history. For that one 60 minutes, Troy was better than Missouri."
The 2004 season also saw the Trojans nearly upset defending BCS champion LSU. David Jones caught a 30-yard touchdown with 2:18 remaining to help LSU avoid the upset and escape with a 24-20 victory.
The Trojans trailed only 17-10 at halftime despite only recording 36 yards of total offense. Troy tied the game late in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by DeWhitt Betterson. That drive started at the LSU 2 following an interception.
Troy took the lead with 3:59 remaining on a 24-yard field goal by Greg Whibbs, but it could have been even better for the Trojans. Troy had scored a touchdown during the drive, but it was called back because of a penalty.
"I thought we had a chance to play with them," Blakeney said after the loss. "I didn't know how long we could hold out. You measure them player for player, in the two deep or player for player throughout the program, we don't have a dying chance. We don't stack up at all. But our kids gave it a tremendous try. We had them on the ropes."
The Trojans ended the '04 season 7-4 and were rewarded with their first bowl appearance in the Silicon Valley Football Conference in San Jose vs. Northern Illinois. Two years later, the Trojans had a couple of BCS losses at Florida State (24-17), Nebraska (56-0) and Georgia Tech (35-20) but still earned another bowl bid. Troy ended its 2006 season with a 41-17 rout of Rice in the New Orleans Bowl.
Troy's first win over a BCS school came in 2001 when the Trojans scored 21-second quarter points in a 21-9 win at Mississippi State. The Trojans had lost in blowouts to Miami (Fla.) and Nebraska earlier in the season, but things were different against the Bulldogs.
Demontray Carter scored twice for the Trojans, who scored all of their points in an eight-minute span. The Auburn transfer finished with 111 all-purpose yards.
Troy vs. BCS Opponents Since Joining Division I-A (Home games in CAPS):
• 2001 - at Nebraska (L, 42-14); at Miami (Fla.) (L, 38-7); at Mississippi State (W, 21-9); at Maryland (L 47-14)
• 2002 - at Nebraska (L, 31-16); at Iowa State (L, 42-12); at Missouri (L, 44-7); at Mississippi State (L, 11-8); at Arkansas (L, 23-0)
• 2003 - at Kansas State (L, 41-5); at Minnesota (L, 48-7); at Nebraska (L, 30-0); at Virginia (L, 24-0).
• 2004 - MISSOURI (W, 24-14); at South Carolina (L, 17-7); at LSU (L, 24-20).
• 2005 - at Missouri (L, 52-21); at South Carolina (L, 45-20).
• 2006 - at Florida State (L, 24-17); at Georgia Tech (L, 35-20); at Nebraska (L, 56-0).
• 2007 - at Arkansas (L, 46-26); at Florida (L, 59-31); OKLAHOMA STATE (W, 41-23); at Georgia (L, 44-34).