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SoCon Weekend Primer

By Jim Johnson
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The Mercer Bears will be looking to move to 3-1 in their first season in the Southern Conference.

VMI at Samford

VMI travels to Birmingham this week for its first ever game in the state of Alabama. This will be only the second time ever that the Keydets and Bulldogs have met on the gridiron. Both teams are coming off of big wins in Week Three and will be looking for their first conference win. Samford will benefit from a little extra time to prepare, having played on Thursday night last week, but expect Sparky Woods to have his boys more than ready to play. Look for the Keydets to make it interesting for a while, but the Bulldogs' skill players are just too fast and will blow the game open in the second half.

Prediction: 38-17 Samford

Citadel at Charleston Southern

The Bulldogs and the Buccaneers meet this weekend at Buccaneer field, about a 20-minute drive from Johnson Hagood Stadium, to battle it out for Charleston supremacy. Despite being winless thus far, The Citadel is sporting the number one rushing offense in all of FCS football. Charleston Southern comes into this week a perfect 3-0, but its wins have come against far inferior opponents compared to The Citadel's two losses. The Citadel had a bye last week, giving it plenty of time to hopefully start to gel under its new head coach. Expect a tight, hard fought battle, but ultimately the Bulldogs will have to keep waiting for that first win.

Prediction: 28-24 Charleston Southern

Wofford at Gardner-Webb

Wofford heads to Boiling Springs, North Carolina, for its game versus Gardner-Webb this Saturday. The Terriers will be looking to avenge last year's brutal 3-0 loss at the hands of the Runnin' Bulldogs. Expect Wofford to come out hard and fast, if it learned anything from its slow start last week against North Greenville. Mike Ayers' Terriers come in to this week tied with The Citadel for the top rushing offense in the FCS. Wofford's ground attack is more explosive than The Citadel's, though, and Gardner-Webb will struggle to stop it.

Prediction: 31-20 Wofford

Ave Maria at Mercer

The 2-1 Mercer Bears line up opposite the 0-2 Ave Maria Gyrenes this week. Ave Maria has really struggled so far this season, getting blown out in both of its first two games at North Greenville and Florida Tech, respectively. The Bears enter this matchup at Moye Complex with equal amounts of momentum and confidence -- and they've got both in spades. SoCon Freshman Player of the Week Alex Lakes has averaged over 100 rushing yards per game through his first three games and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, that won't change against the Gyrenes this week. It's a safe bet that Mercer will extend its win streak to two games and grow its confidence even more ahead of its second conference game at VMI.

Prediction: 45-10 Mercer

Furman at South Carolina State

Furman plays South Carolina State this week in a battle of two struggling offenses. The Paladins only managed one touchdown last week against Presbyterian and the Bulldogs have lost their last two games by a combined score of 103-10, albeit against very difficult opposition. These two teams are similar, in that they try to make up for their lackluster offenses with strong defensive play. This is a perfect recipe for a low scoring, grind it out football game. Expect it to be a close game and look for the more physical defense to come out on top.

Prediction: 20-17 Furman

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