When ESPN College GameDay is in town, national attention will naturally follow. Distractions will abound through the weekend. It is a lot for any team to handle.
So how will the Troy University football team handle this? According to head coach Jon Sumrall, the Trojans don't really have to.
"There's going to be some added excitement and hype around the game from that environment," Sumrall said. "For us, I don't know it really affects us because ESPN is going to Boone. They're not going to Troy. For our guys, we need to work on getting better each day. I don't care if the game is on radio, TV or what. I'd just as soon hear [Voice of the Trojans] Barry McKnight call it than anybody at ESPN."
That's not to say Troy won't face challenges this weekend in Boone, N.C. when the Trojans open Sun Belt Conference play against traditional powerhouse Appalachian State. It's just that the ESPN College GameDay appearance is not one of those challenges.
Look at recent history. Appalachian State is 81-25 since transitioning from FCS to FBS in 2014 and 80-20 in its last 100 games. The Mountaineers have the sixth most wins in FBS football since 2014 and join Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma as the only FBS teams with at least nine wins every season since 2015. Appalachian State is 42-8 at home since 2014.
"What we're getting ready to walk into is what we want to be," said Sumrall, who is in his first season of trying to return to the days of being one of the elite G5 teams in the country. "I want our program to look like what they've been doing. I've got a lot of respect for them."
Now forget about history for a minute. Appalachian State is coming off a national attention-grabbing 17-14 win at Texas A&M. That came a week after the Mountaineers came up short, 63-61, in a wild loss at North Carolina, despite 40 fourth-quarter points by the visiting team.
"I think one of the more impressive things about App State is they've had the opportunity to win both of their games, and they both are very different types of games," Sumrall said. "Their game against North Carolina was a shootout, and their game against Texas A&M was a fist fight, a little bit. For us, it's identifying offense, defense, kicking game, what is going to put us in the best position to be successful. I think you stick to that plan, but then you also, like we've done the last couple of weeks, you have to always recalibrate and make adjustments when they are needed."
The other factor is how well the Trojans can weather the atmosphere inside Kidd Brewer Stadium.
"It's kind of like in a valley [and] dark," said defensive lineman Luis Medina. "Their fans will be over the top for them. It's like we have to lock in, stick to the team and focus on the game on our side. It's kind of hard to explain, for real, you got to be there, in the game, to really see how it is."
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