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SoCon Weekend Primer

By Jim Johnson
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Chattanooga faces The Citadel as the Mocs look to remain atop the SoCon standings.

Furman at South Carolina

Furman has a tough draw this week as it faces in-state opponent South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had a disappointing year so far and might be looking for someone to take their frustrations out on after losing to Kentucky two weeks ago and then having a bye last week. The Paladins may have the unenviable task of being that release. Furman should use this opportunity to play against better opposition than it normally gets and just try to improve, because the next five games after South Carolina are pretty much must-win conference games. Don't expect Coach Spurrier to call off the dogs until this game is well out of hand.

Prediction: 52-7 South Carolina

Chattanooga at Citadel

Over the last decade, the series between Chattanooga and The Citadel is split, with each team winning five. This has become one of the more heated rivalries in the Southern Conference and has provided some amazing comebacks and really special finishes over the past few years. The Mocs will bring the best run defense in the SoCon into Johnson Hagood Stadium to face the number one rushing attack. This game will come down to whether or not the Mocs will be able to contain the Bulldogs' triple-option attack, something they've yet to face this year. Count on another exciting battle between these two physical teams, but when the dust settles, Chattanooga will still be atop the SoCon.

Prediction: 31-24 Chattanooga

Gardner-Webb at VMI

VMI has really struggled this year, and this is its last chance to right the ship before it finishes off with four straight conference games. It's hard to know what to make of Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs beat Wofford a few weeks ago only to be beaten by The Citadel a week later. Then Wofford beat The Citadel a week after that, and no one can make heads or tails of any of it. VMI will come out and throw the ball all over the field and provide a real test for the Bulldogs' secondary. How those defensive backs respond will be the deciding factor in this game. Expect Gardner-Webb to do just enough to get out of Alumni Memorial Stadium with a win.

Prediction: 27-24 Gardner-Webb

Wofford at Samford

For the fourth year in a row, Samford is coming off of a bye week before playing Wofford. This is a vitally important game for both teams, as they each have one conference loss and a second conference loss would all but take them out of contention. The Terriers are coming off a bad loss to Western Carolina last week and will struggle to rebound this week after losing Evan Jacks to injury. The stable of backup quarterbacks behind Jacks should be serviceable, but they'll need more than serviceable to beat this talented Samford squad. Look for the Bulldogs to take care of business at home.

Prediction: 35-24 Samford

Western Carolina at Mercer

Western Carolina has really turned it around and is a legitimate dark horse contender to win the conference this year. Mercer is the new kid on the block, and while probably not quite ready to contend, the Bears are still an impressive 5-2 this season. This has all the makings of a potential upset. The game is in Macon. The Bears are blacking out the stadium. The atmosphere is sure to be rowdy. Having said all that, it's not Mercer's year this year. The Catamounts will get the win, but this game might be closer than you expect.

Prediction: 31-28 Western Carolina

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP