Top SoCon Games of 2012
By Russell V.
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Like every year, this season has a fair share of games that should lead to amazingly competitive contests.
So close to football that it hurts. That’s where we stand right now. Teams are in full swing in training camp, preparing for 2012’s opening kickoff – a day all of us have been waiting for since January.
Like every year, this season has its fair share of games that look eye-openingly amazing on paper. Which games should you look out for more than others though? Which games will live up to the hype?
Time to take a closer look at the top SoCon games of 2012,starting with the out-of-conference contests.
Top OOC Games
5. Furman at Clemson – Here’s a fun piece of trivia for you: who is Clemson’s oldest rival? No, it is not South Carolina; it’s actually Furman. Their football history can be traced back to 1896, though the Tigers hold a commanding 41-10-4 lead in the series. The Paladins, however, have done a good job against FBS teams recently (just ask Florida Gator fans), and the Tigers had their own FCS scare a year ago, thanks to the Wofford Terriers – who you should also have an eye on when they visit the Ol’ Ball Coach and the Gamecocks.
4. Georgia Southern at Georgia – For years, Eagles fans have been craving for another shot at the Bulldogs. In 2012, they will get their chance. After ending the regular season last year with a strong performance against eventual FBS champion Alabama, Georgia Southern looks to build upon that momentum by pulling the upset on a SEC powerhouse just before the playoffs begin. In 2004, the Eagles lost 41-28. I get the feeling it could be a little bit closer in 2012.
3. Appalachian State at East Carolina – Ready for a barn-burner? That’s what you usually get when these two in-state foes lock horns. App fans remember the last time they opened the season against the Pirates, a game that star Armanti Edwards missed due to injury. Had Edwards played, the Mountaineers could’ve easily won the game – but the history books will instead show a 29-24 Pirate victory. Players and fans on both sides are already jacked up for the latest installment of this rivalry.
2. Chattanooga at Jacksonville State – The Mocs and Gamecocks have had a very entertaining season the past few years. It started two years ago, when Jacksonville State broke the Mocs’ hearts with a 21-17 victory. Last year, Chattanooga got revenge, compliments of a 38-17 shellacking. This season, the series returns to Jacksonville State for a third installment. What do they have in store for this year, another early season matchup with potential FCS playoff implications?
1. Montana at Appalachian State – Did you think it’d be anything else? All the FCS world is abuzz, eagerly anticipating this matchup between FCS powerhouses. It’ll be the teams’ first meeting since their FCS semifinal classic in 2009 in a snow-covered Washington-Grizzly Stadium, one that saw the Mountaineers on the short end of the stick. If this year’s game is even close to as much fun as their 2009 matchup was, it will be a victory for FCS fans everywhere.
Top SoCon Conference Games
5. Furman at Samford – What better way to open the 2012 SoCon season than with a matchup between two of the conference’s dark horses? With the return of Fabian Truss, Kelsey Pope and an always-intimidating defense, the Bulldogs are a popular pick to have a surprising season in 2012 (then again, it seems like it’s always that way, doesn’t it?). The Paladins return plenty of stars of their own, led by bruising back Jerodis Williams. The Bulldogs took last year’s game in Greenville 26-21. This year, the loser finds themselves behind the eight-ball early in the SoCon title race.
4. Appalachian State at Chattanooga – The Mountaineers and Mocs have had a tendency to play some great games recently. Last year, the App defense led the team to a dramatic 14-12 win in Boone. The year before that (in a game that probably still haunts some Chattanooga fans), App escaped Chattanooga with a 42-41 victory after an epic comeback led by DeAndre Presley. This year, SoCon co-Freshman of the Year Terrell Robinson hopes to be the difference-maker for the Mocs as they look to get over the Mountaineers.
3. Wofford at Georgia Southern – I always love when these two teams match up, if nothing other than to see two of the best teams at running the option offense doing what they do best. The Eagles have had the upper hand recently, winning three of the last four – including the last two in Spartanburg (including a 23-20 win in the playoffs). The Terriers sport arguably their best team in recent memory. Is it enough to take down the defending conference champs in their own house?
2. Wofford at Appalachian State – Classic SoCon foes re-ignite their rivalry in Boone, where the Terriers hope to build off of last year’s 28-14 victory. SoCon title implications will surely be on the line when these two meet, per usual. Having the game in late October will only add to the drama. Jamal Jackson vs. Alvin Scioneaux. Donovan Johnson and Eric Breitenstein vs. Jeremy Kimbrough and Co. I mean, come on, what more could you ask for?
1. Appalachian State at Georgia Southern – Okay, this is about the only thing more you could ask for. There’s not much else that really needs to be said about these two rivals – the class of the SoCon who has held at least a share of the conference title every year since 2004. Want to see how much the game means to both sides? Go search YouTube for highlights of some of the recent games between the Eagles and Mountaineers. The SoCon title will surely be on the line come November 3. Combine that all together and you have the formula for what is sure to be the game of the year.