SoCon Weekend Primer
By David England
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Three conference bouts headline this week's SoCon schedule.
The 2012 SoCon football season is in full swing and the surprises continue with each and every passing game. The dark horse team has proven to be The Citadel, while Georgia Southern and Appalachian State have early season losses that no one could have predicted. There are three undefeated teams in the conference: The Citadel, Samford, and Wofford. There are also three conferences games this week, featuring Georgia Southern, Samford, and Wofford.
Here is your SoCon Weekend Primer.
Furman at Presbyterian
The Paladins have gotten off to a rough start to begin the 2012 campaign. While last week's game against FBS and top 10 opponent Clemson played out like most expected, Furman will be looking to bounce back this week against Presbyterian (1-2). In the series, Furman holds a convincing 41-11-1 lead, and last year's meeting is one Presbyterian is looking to forget as they lost 62-21.
While this is an easier opponent, it is a must win for Furman. Paladins quarterback Reese Hannon is coming off a 250-plus yard passing day, and he will be looking to continue his success against a weak Blue Hose defense. Jerodis Williams must also run the ball effectively for Furman to come out on top. On the defensive side of the ball, Matt Solomon is having a nice season with 31 tackles on the year.
Prediction: Furman 34 Presbyterian 17
Samford vs Western Carolina
The Bulldogs have gotten off to a very nice start in 2012 with a 3-0 record, including a 1-0 mark in conference play. Samford will be looking for its second conference win of the season against Western Carolina on Saturday. Samford comes into the matchup with possibly the surprise player of the year in the SoCon: Andy Summerlin. Summerlin has over 600 yards passing and three touchdowns. Star running back Fabian Truss has added 268 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, making this a potent offensive attack. Truss took home Special Teams Player of the Week Award honors with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and 262 all purpose yards against Gardner-Webb.
Western Carolina, on the other hand, has yet to impress many people in their first three games. A win over Samford would truly be a season changing win for Western Carolina, but to pull this off they must keep the ball out of Andy Summerlin's hands. That is where running back Darius Ramsey must establish a solid running game.
Prediction: Samford 48 Western Carolina 24
#18 Appalachian State vs Chattanooga
In my estimation, there is no better game this week in the SoCon than Appalachian State vs Chattanooga. It is a pivotal game for both squads, as Chattanooga will be playing their first conference game and Appalachian State is coming off a 52-28 loss to The Citadel. Both teams will be looking for a conference win, and it will be no easy task for the Mountaineers as they travel to Finley Stadium.
Last year's game was one that many will not soon forget, as App. State barely survived in a 14-12 contest. The Mountaineers come in with a 25-10 lead in the all-time series. The running game for App. State has been their bread and butter this season, as is made evident by Steven Miller's 305 yards and five touchdowns on 62 attempts. For Chattanooga, quarterback Jacob Huesman leads the team in passing and rushing with over 650 all purpose yards and five total touchdowns. This is going to be one of the closer games of Week Four action.
Prediction: App State 23 Chattanooga 21
#14 The Citadel at NC State
If you were to go back two months you would have said The Citadel would be lucky to be 1-2 after three weeks of play. The Bulldogs have played, and won, one of the toughest stretches of games in the SoCon. They traveled to App. State, and welcomed Georgia Southern at home, and won both games. This week, they face FBS opponent NC State. The Wolfpack lead the all-time series 4-0, but The Citadel will be no easy opponent for NC State.
The Citadel has proven they are a physical, "three yards and a cloud of dust" team. Quarterback Ben Dupree and linebacker Carson Smith took home Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week Awards in the SoCon last week, respectively. Dupree rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while Smith totaled seven tackles, had an interception, and scored a touchdown off a blocked punt. The Bulldogs have a tough test on Saturday, but don't expect them to lay down and not fight back.
Prediction: The Citadel 17 NC State 28
Elon vs #10 Georgia Southern
The Elon Phoenix will look to pull off a major upset as they travel to Statesboro to face Georgia Southern. Elon is coming off a 48-14 win over West Virginia State last Saturday. The Phoenix are on a high and could play the Eagles close. The series indicates that Georgia Southern will run away with the game as they lead 9-3, and last year's meeting was a blowout 41-14 win for the Eagles. The Eagles will look to bounce back after their bye week.
Thomas Wilson has proven to be an elite quarterback so far in 2012, with over 500 yards through the air and six touchdowns. Elon must speed up the game against Georgia Southern to have a chance against a physical Eagles team. For Georgia Southern, quarterback Ezayi Youyoute needs to be efficient in the option game.
Prediction: Elon 10 Georgia Southern 45