Week 7 SoCon FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 7 Southern Conference Game Breakdowns

It’s 5-0 for the first time since 1991. It’s at No. 6 in the College Sports Madness national ranking and it’s outscored its five opponents by a combined 234-68, but ...

Wofford is good, but how good? Although it has won its first three conference games, its hot start might be a little deceptive. The Terriers have not played a team with a winning record. That will change Saturday night when they visit No. 9 Georgia Southern (4-1, 3-1) in a contest that figures to go a long way in determining a Southern Conference champion.

Wofford and Georgia Southern enter Saturday’s showdown ranked No. 1 and No. 2 nationally in rushing offense respectively, with the Terriers leading the nation with an average of 448.8 yards per game. The Eagles are close behind, averaging 437 yards per game.

The Terriers had their closest game to date on Saturday when they nipped rival Furman 20-17, thanks in part to three interceptions, two in the fourth quarter. “In the second half we came up with some huge plays,” Wofford coach Mike Ayers told reporters. “I can’t say enough about the way we hung together. We are 3-0 in the conference and that is where we wanted to be at the end of the game. The great thing about this team is five weeks in a row we have gotten better. We have had to because the hill that we are climbing is getting steeper and steeper.”

Wofford and Georgia Southern have played two common opponents. Wofford defeated Western Carolina 49-20 and Elon 49-24 while Georgia Southern defeated Western Carolina 45-13 and nipped Elon 26-23. Not only is Saturday’s game in Statesboro big for Wofford, it follows this contest with a trip to Appalachian State on October 20.

Speaking of No. 11 Appalachian State (4-2, 2-1), the Mountaineers have a big game themselves in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend when they visit No. 25 Samford (5-1, 3-1). The Mountaineers won a hard-fought 35-24 victory over visiting Elon Saturday. Appalachian State has amassed at least 400 yards of total offense in each of its first six games of the season for the first time since joining Division I in 1972.

Meanwhile, Samford rolled to an impressive 38-7 triumph over The Citadel and has set its aim on the Mountaineers — the only conference foe it hasn’t beaten since joining the league in 2008.  “I thought the enthusiasm and passion that our guys played with was as good as I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Samford coach Pat Sullivan said. “They’ve taken a lot of pride in that.”

But he also knows the challenge ahead. “Appalachian State has set the bar in this conference for a long time,” Sullivan said. “It starts with their quarterback. They’ve always had a great one, and Jamal (Jackson) is the same way. They’re big up front and they can run on defense. Coach (Jerry) Moore and their coaching staff are outstanding. Obviously, we’ll have our hands full.” 


# 6 WOFFORD at # 9 GEORGIA SOUTHERN (6 p.m. Saturday at Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.)

The respective teams’ rushing attacks have garnered much notice, but these two top 10 teams are just as good on the other side of the ball, too. Georgia Southern is No. 3 in total defense nationally, yielding just 270.2 yards per game. Wofford boasts the nation’s 18th-ranked defensive unit (315.2 yards). If Georgia Southern, which has won 12 straight contests at home, beats Wofford, it will have already beaten the Terriers and Samford. A date with Appalachian State looms on November 3rd that could be for the conference title. This is the 19th meeting between the two with the Eagles holding an 11-7 all-time series edge, including a convincing 38-10 in Spartanburg last season to clinch the 2011 outright Southern Conference title in mid-November. Wofford, however, has claimed three straight victories at Paulson Stadium, posting the victories by scores of 28-10 (2006), 38-37 (2008) and 33-21 (2010). The last time the Eagles claimed a home victory over the Terriers was in 2004.  Saturday should be another one. 

Projected score: Georgia Southern 24, Wofford 20


#11 APPALACHIAN STATE at #25 SAMFORD (2 p.m. Saturday at Seibert Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.)

Samford is enjoying its best start since 1992 and comes into the contest off its first victory over a ranked FCS team since 1994, as the Bulldogs scored an impressive 38-7 triumph over The Citadel. They’re talking FCS playoffs in Birmingham, and why not? At 5-1, the Bulldogs need just two wins in their final five games to become eligible for the FCS postseason. Saturday’s meeting will mark just the seventh all-time meeting between the Mountaineers and Bulldogs, with the Mountaineers holding a 5-1 all-time series edge. Samford’s lone win came in 1970 before it was a member of the Southern Conference. Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin, who was named CSM’s Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, completed 23-of-32 passes for a career-high 320 yards and one touchdown against The Citadel. His counterpart at Appalachian State, Jamal Jackson, had a banner day, too, against Elon. He recorded a school record 398 yards of total offense, including 304 passing yards (four TD passes and one rushing). The Bulldogs hope to take advantage of what should be a fired-up Seibert Stadium crowd, but App State has played in tough environments before. 

Projected score: Appalachian State 35, Samford 20 


CHATTANOOGA at FURMAN (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Paladin Stadium, Greenville, S.C.)

It has been a frustrating season for Furman (2-4, 1-2) when one considers that three of its four losses are by a combined eight points. The only blowout came against Clemson 41-7. The latest disappointment came Saturday when the Paladins battled Wofford evenly before falling 20-17. Meanwhile, Chattanooga (2-3, 1-1) was idle this week. Two weeks ago, it knocked off The Citadel 28-10 and brings one of the nation’s top defenses to Greenville. The Mocs are No. 17 nationally in total defense, allowing just 315 yards per game. Furman holds a 27-14 series advantage and has won 16 of the last 17 meetings, including last year’s 14-7 triumph in Tennessee. Two top young quarterbacks also will be on display in this one as Furman’s Reese Hannon and Chattanooga’s Jacob Huesman have been impressive in their first season of college ball. 

Projected score: Chattanooga 20, Furman 17 


WESTERN CAROLINA at THE CITADEL (2 p.m. Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston, S.C.)

After opening the season with three victories, including wins over Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, The Citadel (3-3, 2-2) has hit a wall. The Bulldogs’ latest loss came at Samford Saturday when they were crushed 38-7, although that score is somewhat misleading because it was only 14-7 in the third quarter. They’ll try to right the ship against Western Carolina (1-5, 0-4), which hopes to snap an 18-game conference losing streak. The Catamounts’ last conference victory came at The Citadel in 2010. One bright spot for The Citadel has been the punting of Cass Couey. Against Samford, he averaged 45.1 yards per punt and put four punts inside the 20, and three inside the 10. Couey is averaging 41.0 yards per punt in his career, the second-best figure in Citadel history. Meanwhile, the Catamounts made the mistake of making Georgia Southern its homecoming opponent last week as the Eagles rolled to a 45-13 triumph. 

Projected score: The Citadel 31, Western Carolina 14 


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns