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Battle at Bristol II

By Robbie Ross
SouthernPigskin.com
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The FCS version of the “Battle at Bristol” will be held this Saturday in Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR’S historic half mile, concrete oval Colosseum, bringing together two SoCon foes that will be meeting for the 46th time.

There will not be any attendance records set. There will not be ESPN College Gameday. There will not be National TV.

But don’t try to tell Western Carolina or East Tennessee State those things.

The FCS version of the “Battle at Bristol” will be held this Saturday in Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR’S historic half mile, concrete oval Colosseum, bringing together two SoCon foes that will be meeting for the 46th time, but the first since 2003, ETSU’s final season in its first stint in the league. 

The Buccaneers (1-0) will step back into SoCon play after competing as an FCS Independent last year, when they restarted their football program after an eleven-year hiatus. 

ETSU head coach Carl Torbush is excited to be opening the Bucs’ conference schedule in such a unique venue. 

“I’ve been everywhere and none of them can compare,” Torbush commented.  “It’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience being able to piggyback off of the Tennessee and Virginia Tech game, a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think our players are tremendously excited about doing it.” 

Torbush went on to say his Bucs need to get used to big venues. 

“Look on down the road, we play Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, we play Appalachian State, so we have a lot of top 10, top 20 FBS teams we will be playing at in the next five or six years.” 

Western Carolina (1-1) head coach Mark Speir was equally excited about the chance to play in such a historic venue. 

“It’s such a storied venue, The Last Colosseum,” Speir remarked. “I grew up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dale Earnhardt racing country, so there’s not a better day for me as an avid NASCAR fan than to be playing football in Bristol.” 

Speir echoed Torbush in saying that his players are excited as well.

“It’s exciting for our players. For the rest of their lives, whether they’re a racing fan or not, to be able to say I played in the largest college football stadium in America.” 

Preseason SoCon Offensive Player of the Year for the Catamounts, Detrez Newsome, is aware of the venue, but is not much of a NASCAR fan yet. 

“I wouldn’t say that I am a NASCAR guy, but I feel like when me and the team are out there, we are going to feel like NASCARS runnin’ in Bristol.” 

As if the Catamounts and Bucs needed more motivation than playing the first SoCon game of the season and playing in Bristol Motor Speedway, it was announced this week that the teams will be playing for two trophies Saturday.  One is a replica of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Bristol race trophy with a football at the top. The other is an actual tire used from August's NASCAR race that will be painted half ETSU blue and half WCU purple. 

The Battle at Bristol II kicks off Saturday at 1:30 ET on the SoCon Digital Network.

Robbie Ross - Robbie Ross is Southern Pigskin's lead SoCon writer. A 19-year veteran of the Furman Radio Network, Ross also spent time with the Georgia State Radio Network prior to his ventures with Southern Pigskin. He is a voter in the STATS FCS Top 25 Poll.