SoCon Week 13 FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

 Week 12 Southern Conference Breakdowns

It might have seemed like a good idea at the time to schedule the No. 1 team in the nation, but not now as Chattanooga – after losing to Samford – might have to upset Alabama to make the FCS playoffs. If the Mocs (8-3, 6-2), who have a share of the SoCon title, don’t, then they could be on the outside looking in when the playoff field is announced Sunday. Chattanooga is done with its league season while No. 23 Samford (7-4, 5-2) faces Elon and Furman (6-5, 5-2) hosts Wofford. In the event of a three-way tie, Furman gets the automatic playoff bid. If Furman loses and Samford wins, then the Bulldogs get the auto bid by virtue of its victory over Chattanooga. And if Furman and Samford win, the Paladins get the auto bid and it’s likely Samford gets a playoff nod over Chattanooga (if the SoCon receives two playoff berths) because of its victory over Chattanooga. It’s unlikely the SoCon would receive three berths. So Chattanooga needs Wofford to beat Furman to knock the Paladins out of the conference and playoff race and hope an 8-4 mark (if it loses to Alabama) would be good enough to grab a playoff spot.


Wofford at Furman, Saturday, Noon

This is the most excitement the Paladins (6-5, 5-2) have had for a regular-season finale in quite awhile and why not? A victory gives them at least a share of the SoCon title (for the first time since 2004) and maybe more. If Samford beats Elon, Furman is expected to receive the league’s automatic playoff bid based on the conference’s tie-breaker system and make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Ray Early made the scenario possible when he kicked a single-game record six field goals on Saturday to help Furman defeat Western Carolina, 32-20, for its fourth straight league victory. Furman, which is tied for seventh nationally in turnover margin, hopes to continue that strong facet of its game against the Terriers, who figure to be reeling after bowing to Appalachian State, 33-21. The loss knocked Wofford (5-5, 4-3) out of the SoCon title race as well as the FCS playoffs. There will be too much emotion on Saturday in Greenville for the Paladins to let this opportunity slip away.

Projected Score: Furman 24, Wofford 20


The Citadel at Clemson, Saturday, Noon

The good news for The Citadel (5-6, 4-4) is that the Bulldogs are ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense with 282.1 yards per game. The bad news? They’re playing Clemson (9-1), which just got done dismantling Georgia Tech, 55-31. Clemson held Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack to just 72 yards in the first half so the Bulldogs know they have their work cut out for them. This is the first meeting between the two schools since 2008. While Clemson might be looking ahead to its contest with rival South Carolina on November 30th, this is the last home game for many seniors at “Death Valley,” including standout quarterback Tajh Boyd, so don’t expect them to take this one lightly. Boyd injured his collarbone against Georgia Tech, but he should be ready for this one.

Projected Score: Clemson 54, The Citadel 17


Georgia Southern at Florida, Saturday, 2 p.m.

It’s been a strange year for the Eagles (6-4, 4-4) in this transition season from FCS to FBS status, but they figure to be sky-high for this one as Florida is the only FBS team that dotted the schedule this fall. Georgia Southern defeated Elon, 38-20, in its final SoCon game on Saturday as Irving Huggins rushed for three touchdowns. It was the most points Georgia Southern had scored on a SoCon team this season, and it ends its affiliation with the league with a 115-49 record in 21 years. The Eagles join the Sun Belt Conference next season. The last time the Eagles faced Florida was in 1996 when the Gators won, 62-14, but Georgia Southern has given FBS teams trouble in recent years. It rushed for 302 yards against Georgia in 2012 and 302 yards against Alabama in 2011. The Gators (4-6) have lost five consecutive games, including Saturday’s 19-14 loss at South Carolina. This could be an entertaining game.

Projected Score: Florida 31, Georgia Southern 20


Chattanooga at Alabama, Saturday, 2 p.m.

The Mocs, which had two fourth-quarter rallies in their last three games, trailed Samford 14-0 after three quarters and eventually tied the game to send it into overtime before losing. All-American linebacker Wes Dothard had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown that started the comeback. Quarterback Jacob Huesman was 28-for-34 for a career-high 265 yards and a TD, but it wasn’t enough as Chattanooga hopes to rebound and spring the monumental upset this week. Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama (10-0) is coming off an uninspiring 20-7 triumph over Mississippi State where the Tide committed four turnovers. It was Alabama’s lowest-scoring output of the season. Chattanooga is 0-11 against the Tide. In their last meeting in 2009, Alabama beat the Mocs, 45-0. That score sounds about right for this one.

Projected Score: Alabama 45, Chattanooga 7


Elon at #23 Samford, Saturday, 3 p.m.

If someone would have said Samford would score just 17 points against Chattanooga, many figured that wouldn’t be enough points, but the Bulldogs’ defense came up huge and helped secure the significant victory as redshirt freshman kicker Warren Handrahan booted a 43-yard field goal in OT to help give Samford the victory. Now, a win over lowly Elon (2-9, 1-6) could make the playoffs a reality even if Furman does get the SoCon’s automatic playoff bid. The Bulldogs’ four losses are to Arkansas (21-31), SE Louisiana (31-34), The Citadel (26-28) and Furman (17-35). Meanwhile, the Phoenix fell to Georgia Southern, 38-20, their fifth consecutive loss.

Projected score: Samford 31, Elon 17


Western Carolina at Appalachian State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

After a dismal start to its season, Appalachian State (3-8, 3-4) has played better down the stretch. The Mountaineers toppled Wofford to snap a two-game losing streak to the Terriers as Andrew Peacock became the school’s all-time career receptions leader. He finished with seven receptions for 54 yards. Western Carolina (2-9, 1-6) and App State will play in the “Battle for the Old Mountain Jug.” The Mountaineers lead the series, 58-18-1 and have won eight straight. Appalachian State won last year’s contest, 38-27. Meanwhile, Western Carolina lost to Furman, 32-20, on Saturday.

Projected score: Appalachian State 31, Western Carolina 20


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