SoCon Football 2020 Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Southern Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
It would be wishful thinking to think that my constant badgering of FCS conferences curtailing to FBS schools wanting to play in November was any of my doing, but it is a wish. Make those big boys play you early, at full strength when it’s more even. Don’t allow them to abuse you for style points for their late playoff push. I’ve been a pretty staunch adversary to this practice and the SoCon was one of the bigger enablers and the ACC and SEC have been their oppressors. As far as the FCS goes, this conference looks more balanced than even recent history suggests. Most everyone should be competitive, which will make all outsiders leery when they play. And there’s plenty of good regional action coming from the SoCon.
Chattanooga: @ Western Kentucky (FBS), @ James Madison, vs. North Alabama.
  • Great schedule, but this is a toughie. Western Kentucky is FBS, so that speaks for itself. A road game to James Madison? They’re one of a handful of national elite programs in FCS. North Alabama is just across the border and an improving program.
The Citadel: vs. Elon, vs. Charleston Southern, @ Clemson (FBS).
  • Very strong schedule here for non-conference. Elon is usually a mid-level CAA team, at worst. Charleston Southern is a good Big South team and they and The Citadel both call Charleston home. So not only is it in-state, it’s in-city. Always fun. Then of course, the FBS Clemson game in November. It better have come with a monster check.
East Tennessee State: vs. Mars Hill (lower), @ Georgia (FBS), @ Austin Peay.
  • Lower division, Mars Hill, is a great way to start the season with a win, but a lousy way to make headway back towards the playoffs, since the game is basically uncounted. Road games with FBS Georgia and Austin Peay will both be tough.
Furman: @ Charleston Southern, @ Tennessee (FBS), vs. Presbyterian.
  • The game at Charleston Southern will actually be the Paladins second game of the year, as they open with conference rival, Wofford. Road game at FBS Tennessee is not a bad travel day, but should be a good challenge. The visit from Presbyterian comes in early November, which helps them avoid a late season bye week.
Mercer: @ Vanderbilt (FBS), @ Campbell, vs. Charleston Southern.
  • Mercer’s non-conference games are all over the schedule in random spots. FBS roadie to Vanderbilt kicks off the season, which isn’t too bad for driving and opponent. Campbell is in game number 4, on the road. Charleston Southern is in game number 10. But, that final game allows them to take their bye in early October as opposed to November.
Samford: vs. Tennessee Tech, @ Florida State (FBS), @ Kennesaw State.
  • It would be wise for Samford to make good on the home game with Tennessee Tech and not take them soft, because these other two games will be tougher than a $2 steak. FBS road game at Florida State, a top level program for years. And then a little later, a road game to Kennesaw State, who figures to be a Top Ten (or close) FCS program in 2020.
Virginia Military: @ Robert Morris, @ Virginia (FBS), vs. Princeton.
  • Virginia Military surprised some folks last year, myself included. 4-4 SoCon and 5-7 overall is respectable for a program that’s been down for a long time. The road game to Robert Morris and home date with Princeton have to be looked at as “have to” wins, if they want to take the next step forward. The FBS game at Virginia will probably be too much for them to handle just yet.
Western Carolina: @ Eastern Kentucky, vs. Gardner-Webb, @ Liberty (FBS).
  • The Catamounts play a schedule without lower division foes, that’s a plus. The first two games, one road, one home, need to be top priority. If they can win both of those and the conference game with Mercer sandwiched in, to start the season, maybe they have the momentum to finally break into the playoffs. The FBS Liberty game comes in November. Shame!
Wofford: vs. South Carolina State, @ Gardner-Webb, @ South Carolina (FBS).
  • Wofford has a rotten schedule. Not that the teams are horrible, but their first four games of the season are conference games. Then they get South Carolina State at home, who upset them last year. Gardner-Webb and FBS South Carolina come in games 9 and 11, first and last game in November. Wonky schedule for sure.
Southern Numbers
8 vs. Big South
2 vs. CAA
1 vs. Ivy
1 vs. MEAC
1 vs. NEC
3 vs. OVC
1 vs. FCS Independents
9 vs. FBS
1 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)