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SoCon Weekend Primer

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Samford kicked off the SoCon's weekend slate with a resounding 52-0 victory over Stillman on Thursday night.

Samford 52, Stillman 0 (Thursday Night)

Samford won in a rout against Stillman College Thursday night, as the Bulldogs shut out the visiting team 52-0. Samford's steady, powerful ground attack was on full display, putting up a whopping 294 yards and averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Stillman's lone bright spot was Thomasville, Georgia, native Jonathan Esther, but it simply could not establish any sort of offensive rhythm. Both teams were sloppy as far as penalties go. Samford, however, wasn't nearly as bad as Stillman, which committed 153 yards worth of infractions.

Davidson at VMI

VMI has struggled so far in its first two games of the season. The Keydets’ defense was dismantled at Bowling Green last week. The VMI secondary returned all of its starters this year, so look for this experienced group to be resilient and have a much improved performance this week. Expect coach Sparky Woods to have addressed the issue of the missing long snapper. The Keydets’ special teams cost them the game at Bucknell, but I do not think that will be the case against Davidson.

Prediction: 34-31 VMI

Catawba at Western Carolina

The Catamounts are off to a solid start, giving South Florida all it wanted and handily beating Brevard College. Look for junior Troy Mitchell to continue his super-efficient play under center. Catawba blew out Davidson in its season opener behind a strong running game and an excellent performance by South Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Week, quarterback Mike Sheehan. If Western Carolina can establish the run early expect the Catamounts to come away with a decisive victory.

Prediction: 38-17 Western Carolina.

Chattanooga at Austin Peay

Our preseason pick to win the Southern Conference, Chattanooga, has yet to come away victorious through two weeks of football. The Mocs suffered losses in two barnburners against Central Michigan and Jacksonville State, respectively. If the Mocs want to win this weekend, they will have to be more explosive on offense. Keon Williams only managed a measly 2.6 yards per carry against Jacksonville State, while the team fared even worse in the passing game. That being said, expect the Mocs to fly high and take care of business in Clarksville.

Prediction: 21-10 Chattanooga

Mercer at Stetson

Both of these teams are 1-1, coming off Week Two losses. Stetson was thrashed by the Panthers of Florida Tech, while the Bears hung in there, but ultimately failed to beat Furman. Mercer coach Bobby Lamb returns all of his starters, offense and defense, this year. Mercer’s balanced pistol offense, led by star quarterback John Russ and freshman phenom Alex Lakes, should be able to put up solid numbers this week against the Hatters’ abysmal defense. It’s a safe bet that Mercer will get to 2-1 this Saturday in Spec Martin Stadium.

Prediction: 45-9 Mercer

Furman at Presbyterian

The undefeated Paladins took over the top spot in our most recent SoCon Power Poll. This week they head down to Clinton to take on the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Furman looks a little vulnerable after having to come from behind to beat Mercer last week. The Paladins still had the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week in Jordan Snellings and a stellar defensive performance by Gary Wilkins, who had 10 tackles and a fourth quarter pick-six to make it a two-score game. For the Blue Hose to have any shot at an upset, they have to match Furman’s physicality, a challenging proposition.

Prediction: 35-21 Furman

North Greenville at Wofford

The North Greenville Crusaders are coming off a 45-21 victory against Ave Maria University in last Thursday’s opener. Wofford wasn’t quite as successful in its first game against Georgia Tech, but the Terriers held their own against a strong opponent. The Terriers would be foolish to look past this North Greenville Squad and its spread attack. This should be a win for Wofford and could serve as a valuable confidence booster ahead of its trip to Gardner-Webb. Expect the Terriers to run the ball and pound the Crusaders into submission.

Prediction: 49-14 Wofford

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