December 6, 2010 at 4:31 AM CST - Updated June 22 at 4:28 PM
The Troy University Trojans football teams will make their third trip in five years to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
The Tenth Anniversary R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, December 18, at 8 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome.
The Trojans, who clinched a share of their fifth consecutive Sun Belt Conference title on Saturday with a 44-7 dismantling of Florida Atlantic, will take on the Ohio Bobcats from the Mid-American Conference in New Orleans.
"We are all very excited and are looking forward to returning to New Orleans to represent the Sun Belt Conference in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl," Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney said. "We have talked all season about 'The Drive for Five' and part of that Drive was to give our players and our fans a chance to go back to New Orleans."
Executive Director of the New Orleans Bowl, Billy Ferrante, extended the invitation via speakerphone on Sunday after spending the morning working with the Executive Committee to assemble the matchup.
"The Sun Belt Conference gave us a lot of exciting football to end the season, and made our choice a tough one," Ferrante said. "Coach Blakeney has an exciting, competitive, and enthusiastic history with the New Orleans Bowl, and we always look forward to welcoming the Trojan Nation."
Tickets for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will be available through the Troy Athletics Ticket Office beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Tickets will cost $40 each. Fans can also go online to TroyTrojans.com and click on the Athletics Ticket Office page to order tickets online.
Troy University students will also be able to purchase discounted student tickets for the game. Students must pick up their tickets in person from the Athletics Ticket Office and must provide a valid student identification. Students will only be allowed to purchase one ticket for the game.
"We are very humbled and honored to be going to the New Orleans Bowl," Troy Director of Athletics Steve Dennis said. "This trip is a reward for our players, coaches, students and fans. Now is the time for the Trojan Nation to rise and purchase their tickets from the Troy Athletics Ticket Office and support our team in New Orleans. The challenge is for Troy to have the best 12th man ever in the New Orleans Bowl."
The Trojans will be headquartered at the Marriott New Orleans Hotel on Canal Street. Fans can reserve rooms at the team hotel for $85 per night by calling 800-228-9290 and referencing the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
After the team meeting, some of the Trojans shared their feelings on returning to New Orleans.
"I'm excited," Jernigan said. "It's a wonderful city and the New Orleans Bowl and R&L Carriers people really take care of you. I talked to them earlier today on the phone and I promised them that we would bring a great crowd. We are just ready to get going. We need the fans to be the 12th man on the field. This is our third time going down there, so it's pretty much our home turf. I would just tell (the fans) to pack their bags and be ready to have fun and come see a good game."
Senior Sam Sellers, who is one of just four members of the 2010 Troy team who will have a championship ring for all five years, said the fact this team had to overcome so much adversity this year makes the invitation to New Orleans even sweeter.
"It's a great feeling," Sellers said. "I'm just happy that we have made it this far as a team. We've had some problems in the past, but we rallied together and finished strong as a team. That's the rewarding thing, seeing the smiles on everybody's faces and the happiness."
The Trojans will face the Ohio Bobcats for the first time in the bowl game. Ohio, which is coached by Frank Solich, completed an 8-4 record during the regular season that included a second place finish in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference.
The Bobcats will be playing in their fifth bowl game, and their third under Solich. Ohio played in the GMAC Bowl following the 2006 season, dropping a 28-7 decision to Southern Miss. The Bobcats played in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit last year, falling 21-17 to Marshall.
Ohio also played in the Sun Bowl in 1962 and the Tangerine Bowl in 1968, losing both outings.
Solich is in his sixth season at Ohio following a six-year run as head coach at Nebraska.
For the Trojans, the appearance in New Orleans will be Troy's fifth bowl appearance in the last seven years. Troy lost to Northern Illinois in the Silicon Valley Classic in 2004 and defeated Rice in the 2006 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Troy returned to New Orleans in 2008, losing an overtime heart-breaker to Southern Miss. The Trojans fell in double overtime to Central Michigan in the 2010 GMAC Bowl.
Troy also played in the 1948 Paper Bowl in Pensacola, Fla., losing to rival Jacksonville State.
The Trojans and Bobcats had two common opponents during the 2010 season. Both teams played and defeated Bowling Green and UL Lafayette.
Senior DuJuan Harris summed up the feeling the Trojans have going into the New Orleans Bowl.
"We have been working hard and I feel like we deserve this," Harris said. "We've been here a while and we've taken two tough losses in the last two bowls, so it's like we're blessed to go to another bowl. We left a loss in New Orleans, so that is a nasty taste in our mouth, so we've pretty much got to go down there and take what's ours."
To the Troy fans, Harris had a simple message.
"Come, it's going to be a must-see," Harris said. "You don't want to miss it. Like Coach Blakeney said, it might be the largest crowd we've ever had at a bowl game. It's going to be a must-see, it's going to be a big game."