SoCon Week 9 FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 9 Southern Conference Breakdowns

It’s unusual when a significant Southern Conference contest doesn’t include Georgia Southern or Appalachian State, but that’s the case Saturday when Samford (3-0, 5-2) visits Wofford (4-0, 5-2). While Chattanooga (3-1, 5-2) still has a say in the league standings, the winner of this weekend’s game in Spartanburg, S.C., will get the upper hand toward a league championship. The contest also has playoff ramifications. A loss by either Wofford or Samford won’t knock them out of the playoff picture, but it will take away their margin of error as the season hits the homestretch. After a bye (Nov. 2), Wofford visits Chattanooga (Nov. 9) while Samford hosts Chattanooga on Nov. 16.


#20 Samford at #11 Wofford, 1:30 p.m.

To say it’s been difficult to get an accurate read on Wofford would be an understatement. It got blown out by Baylor, 69-3, in the season opener. Of course, the unbeaten Bears are a Top 20 FBS team. The Terriers also lost to Gardner-Webb, 3-0, in a driving rain, and needed last-second stops to hold on against Elon and Western Carolina, neither of which would be confused with North Dakota State. Yet Wofford topped Georgia Southern, 30-20, in convincing fashion. So just how good are the Terriers? Their No. 11 ranking in the CSM poll might have more to do with history judging by this fall’s up-and-down season. Still, Wofford is fourth in the nation in rushing (275.6 ypg), and it’s no secret what it will try to do against the Bulldogs. Leading rusher Donovan Johnson has missed the last two games with a concussion and his status is uncertain. The Terriers have been juggling quarterbacks hoping to find consistency at that position. Against Elon, Michael Weimer came on in a relief role in the second quarter and scored on an 83-yard run early in the second half. He finished with 132 yards rushing. James Lawson started at quarterback after Evan Jacks had started the previous two games. Lawson, who started the Terriers’ opening four games, threw an interception in the second quarter that prompted Weimer’s entrance. Meanwhile, quarterback hasn’t been a problem for Samford where Andy Summerlin has had an outstanding fall. Summerlin is 11th in the nation in passing, averaging 288.4 ypg. The Bulldogs are 21st nationally in total offense and tied for 22nd in scoring offense. Besides Summerlin, Samford has running back Fabian Truss, who is the top all-purpose back in the nation with 226.29 total yards per game. Last year, Samford won a thriller in double-overtime, 24-17, in Birmingham, Ala. Wofford scored with 1:52 remaining to take an eight-point lead, but the Bulldogs tied it with a TD and two-point conversion as time expired to send the contest into overtime. We can expect another close one this time, but Samford rates a slight edge mainly because of Summerlin and the inconsistencies Wofford has experienced this season.

Projected Score: Samford 20, Wofford 17


The Citadel at Chattanooga, 2 p.m.

The Mocs (3-1, 5-2), who handled Elon, 20-9, on Saturday under soggy conditions can’t be caught looking ahead here to their crucial slate of games in November. The 20-point effort was a season low for Chattanooga, but its defense – ranked No. 8 nationally – played well. For the Mocs, Davis Tull recorded a fourth-quarter sack to give him 24 for his career, a program record. Teammate Wes Dothard led all players with 13 tackles. Offensively, Keon Williams rushed 24 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. The Citadel (2-3, 2-5) had a bye this week. In last year’s contest between the two schools, Chattanooga rolled to a 28-10 triumph as it shut down the Bulldogs’ option attack. The Citadel did rush for 232 yards, but it was only 1-of-9 on third downs.

Projected Score: Chattanooga 31, The Citadel 13


#18 Georgia Southern at Appalachian State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Normally, this is THE game in the SoCon, but not this year. Georgia Southern (2-2, 4-2) has had a decent season, but quite honestly, not up to its usual standards and Appalachian State (1-3, 1-6) has been a train wreck. The Mountaineers’ latest loss came on Saturday when Furman beat App State, 27-10. The Mountaineers fumbled eight times and had five turnovers, including an interception that was returned 98 yards for a score. On the bright side, Appalachian State outgained Furman and had 30 first downs compared with the Paladins’ 14.  Kameron Bryant completed 32-of-40 passes and set career highs for completions, attempts and passing yards (307). And Marcus Cox rushed for 118 yards on 21 carries. Meanwhile, Georgia Southern was idle on Saturday as it continues its transition season to FBS status. The Eagles and App State will join the Sun Belt Conference next year. The Eagles are averaging just over 40 points per game although that average was aided by a 77-point effort against Savannah State. Still, Georgia Southern has plenty of firepower and should have enough to take care of the Mountaineers on Saturday.

Projected Score: Georgia Southern 35, Appalachian State 24


Elon at Western Carolina, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Both Elon (1-3, 2-6) and Western Carolina (0-4, 1-7) have suffered heartbreaking losses this season. Elon nearly knocked off Wofford two weeks ago when it was stopped inside the Terriers’ 5-yard-line as time expired. The Phoenix bowed to Chattanooga 20-9 on Saturday, but they did manage to gain 293 yards offense on one of the nation’s top defenses. Meanwhile, the Catamounts nearly upset Wofford as well. They fell 21-17 to Wofford on Saturday (26th straight SoCon loss) as they were inside the Terriers’ 5 as time expired. Western Carolina had 419 yards of offense and led by 10 points at halftime.

Projected score: Elon 28, Western Carolina 20


Furman at LSU, Saturday, 7 p.m.

The Paladins (2-2, 3-4) head to the Bayou this weekend to take on nationally ranked LSU. It’s the first meeting between the two schools. Furman scored a big victory last weekend with a 27-10 triumph over Appalachian State while the Tigers (6-2) were stunned by Ole Miss so it’s likely the Tigers won’t be in a good mood. But this might be as good a time as any for Furman to play LSU because the Tigers haven’t had a bye week yet and Alabama and Texas A&M are their next two games (after next week’s bye).

Projected score: LSU 48, Furman 10


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