Week 9 SoCon FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 9 Southern Conference Game Breakdowns

Thanks to its 20-13 victory over Samford on Saturday, Chattanooga has a three-game winning streak. But more importantly, it can legitimately talk about being not only in the hunt for the conference title, but a playoff spot, too.  And that hasn’t happened too often lately in southeastern Tennessee.  Still, there are a few major obstacles remaining – No. 5 Georgia Southern (6-1, 5-1) for starters on Saturday and No. 8 Wofford on Nov. 10. But the Mocs have put themselves in a position to have an impact on the conference race.

“They have some really good defensive players, so give Samford credit,” Mocs’ coach Russ Huseman said after Saturday’s key victory. “It was tough sledding out there for our guys offensively, but anytime you can get a win against a really good team, you’re pleased.  We’ll nit-pick all we want, but we gave up only 13 points and 259 yards for 60 minutes, so I’ll take it.  It’s huge to win three in a row, we’re still in the thick of things, and we have the best team in the conference coming in.”

That best team is, of course, Georgia Southern. The Eagles are atop the league standings with a 5-1 mark, one-half game ahead of Wofford (6-1, 4-1) while Chattanooga (4-3, 3-1) is the other team with only one loss in the league.

Although Georgia Southern has a win over Wofford, it still has a key conference contest remaining with Appalachian State (5-3. 3-2) on Nov. 3. Wofford, meanwhile, still has conference games remaining with The Citadel (4-3, 3-2), Samford (5-3, 3-3) and Chattanooga.

So there are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle that need to be answered. As far as Saturday’s games go:


#5 GEORGIA SOUTHERN at CHATTANOOGA (6 p.m. Saturday at Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, Tenn.)

One of the reasons for Chattanooga’s success is that they don’t commit turnovers. The Mocs have gone three straight games without a turnover, and keeping turnovers to a minimum will help their chances against the Eagles. “Normally, when you play good defense and don’t turn the ball over, you have a shot to win,” Mocs’ coach Russ Huseman said. Georgia Southern won a thriller last year 28-27 against Chattanooga and leads the series 21-4, but the Mocs have won three of the last six. The matchup will pit Georgia Southern’s No. 2-ranked rushing offense (389 yards a game) against Chattanooga’s No. 17th-ranked rushing defense. In recent years, Chattanooga has shown the ability to compete with the Eagles and this year shouldn’t be any different. Still, you have to go with the Eagles.

Projected score: Georgia Southern 24, Chattanooga 20


THE CITADEL at #8 WOFFORD (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Gibbs Stadium, Spartansburg, S.C.)

If the Terriers, coming off a big 38-28 win at Appalachian State (its first in 10 years), aren’t ready, they could be on upset alert here. The Citadel (4-3, 3-2) was the talk of the league early in the year as it posted victories over Georgia Southern and Appalachian State before dropping three in a row. But it’s coming off a bye week and should be ready to give the Terriers all they can handle. In 2011, Wofford ran all over the Bulldogs en route to a 43-14 triumph and its 13th consecutive victory in the series as Eric Breitenstein rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown. This might be a fairly quick game (compared with other college contests) as both teams love the ground game. In fact, Wofford is No. 1 nationally in rushing offense (408 yards per game) while The Citadel is No. 4 (305 ypg). We have to go with history in this one.

Projected score: Wofford 34, The Citadel 24


#16 APPALACHIAN STATE at WESTERN CAROLINA (3:30 p.m. Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, N.C.)

The Mountaineers need to win two of their final three contests to become playoff eligible.  App State is coming off a disappointing loss to Wofford where it was held to 106 yards rushing, and this is the first year since 1997 where the Mountaineers have lost at least two home games. Meanwhile, the Catamounts (1-7, 0-6) continue to struggle as they lost their 20th straight league loss on Saturday to Elon 42-31. Western Carolina did rally in the second half, however, as it trailed 35-13 at halftime.

Projected score: Appalachian State 45, Western Carolina 21


FURMAN at ELON (3 p.m. Saturday at Rhodes Stadium, Elon, N.C.)

Elon quarterback Thomas Wilson, who was College Sports Madness Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, threw for 412 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes in the Phoenix’ win over Western Carolina on Saturday. It was his third 400-yard performance of his career. In addition, he has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season and leads the league with 18 touchdown passes. On the receiving end of many of Wilson’s passes was wide receiver Aaron Mellette, who had five receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Furman (2-6, 1-4) is coming off a 38-17 loss to Georgia Southern, but the Paladins led 10-9 in the third quarter before the Eagles reeled off 21 consecutive points. Last year, Elon’s Wilson led the Phoenix to a 41-34 upset win at Greenville, S.C., when he threw for four TDs.

Projected score: Elon 35, Furman 30


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns