SoCon Weekend Primer
By Russell V.
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Week 10 of the SoCon season and the race for the conference title has new life.
Suddenly, Georgia Southern is the team that needs help to win the conference title while Wofford and App look like the two favorites to battle it out for the conference championship.
Season record: 36-7
Chattanooga at Samford, Noon
This SoCon West battle is the most underrated game of the weekend. Samford has surprised just about everyone with their strong play this season while Chattanooga is a few plays away from battling Georgia Southern, Wofford and App for the conference title. The Mocs have looked great with Terrell Robinson under center, but now incumbent starter BJ Coleman is healthy and practicing again, which begs the question – who will play on Saturday? It could go a long way in determining the winner, since Chattanooga is a very different team depending on who plays quarterback. On paper, this looks like a great matchup. Samford’s offense is third in the SoCon while Chattanooga has the top defense. On the other side, the Mocs have the league’s worst offense and the Bulldogs have the second-worst defense. In a coin flip like this, who do you go with? Usually, it’s safe to go with the home team. Just saying.
Samford 27, Chattanooga 21
SoCon Game of the Week: No. 3 Appalachian State at Furman, 1:30 p.m.
The biggest game in the Southern Conference on Saturday can be found in Greenville when the new high-flying Mountaineers, coming off the biggest win of the season, visit a Paladin team fighting for their playoff lives. First off, quick side note – I said last week App controlled their destiny when it came to the SoCon title. Yeah, they do but only if Wofford loses. Yup. My bad. Back to the game: With a win, Furman would actually be tied with the Mountaineers in the conference standings, throwing yet another hitch into the title race. Jerodis Williams is having the best year of a running back not named Breitenstein, as he has run for 838 yards and seven touchdowns, which is good for second-best in the conference. Chris Forcier leads the nation in passing efficiency, thanks to his incredible 17-4 touchdown to interception ratio, and the Paladins have the second-best turnover ratio in the conference at +8. But, the Mountaineers are playing at a highest level they have this year. Jamal Jackson has brought new life to Appalachian’s offense and the defense is beginning to gel and is coming off their most impressive performance of the season, as they completely shut down the nation’s top offense. The biggest question is can App avoid a letdown against Furman? Can they come anywhere close to matching the intensity they played with last week?
No. 3 Appalachian State 37, Furman 27
The Citadel at No. 4/5 Georgia Southern, 2 p.m.
Georgia Southern is reeling after their upset loss last week that saw their top ranked offense limited to just a field goal, a touchdown and just over 200 yards of offense. Saturday will prove to be no walk in the park against the Citadel, who have the third-ranked defense in the conference and bring their own version of the triple option to Statesboro. Ben Dupree and Aaron Miller have formed a solid one-two combination at quarterback for the Bulldogs, who have slowly but surely worked their way up the SoCon ranks. Unfortunately for the Citadel, they are played the Eagles at the worst possible time. They will come out angry after their loss to their hated rivals in the mountains and will take out their frustrations on the poor military cadets. The biggest worry for Citadel fans should be the rushing defense statistic. While the Bulldogs have the fourth-best rush D in the SoCon, the Eagles have the best, giving up just over 100 yards per game on the ground.
No. 4/5 Georgia Southern 45, The Citadel 13
No. 9/11 Wofford at Western Carolina, 3 p.m. SoCon Sports Network and ESPN3
The Catamounts did have to deal with another firing after last week’s 52-24 loss at Samford. Defensive coordinator Matt Pawlowski is now former defensive coordinator Matt Pawlowski as he was fired and Jay Hood was announced as the interim leader of the defense. He will have three games to try to turn around a defense that is giving up 502.1 yards and 46.1 points per game. 35 points is the lowest amount they have given up in a game this year, so needless to say, improvements were needed. And now they take on the high-powered Wofford Terriers and Eric Breitenstein, coming off of his 217 yard, four touchdown game against Elon. Hood has surely had nightmares trying to figure out ways to slow down the Terrier attack. Wofford averages 358.5 yards per game on the ground while the Catamounts give up 331.9 every game. That stat alone should let you know who I am going to pick to win. Combine that with the fact that Wofford now knows they are the favorites to win the SoCon title and the automatic bid to the conference and it is very hard to see them losing in Cullowhee on Saturday.
No. 9/11 Wofford 53, Western Carolina 20