College Sports Journal Southern Conference Football Preview Week of 3/6/21

Raise your hand if you had Chattanooga, VMI or East Tennessee State as the team that will be the last unbeaten remaining in the Southern Conference. Now put your hand down because you are lying.

But that is exactly what will happen. With Furman and Wofford already suffering losses, the Southern Conference is wide open. Its going to be very important to win every week because this looks like a one bid league. With three games on the slate this week (East Tennessee State at Wofford was postponed), there is no margin for error for the teams with a loss already.

Chattanooga at The Citadel
Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription required)

Back in the fall it looked like both of these teams were ready to challenge for the conference title. Since then, only one team has looked ready to take the next step, Chattanooga.

There were reports that the Mocs were using the spring to prepare for the fall. However they used a 10 point fourth quarter to get past Wofford last weekend.

The Mocs got a strong game from quarterback Drayton Arnold despite the lack of a run game. But the real star was Devonnsha Maxwell on defense. He disrupted Wofford all game with 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

Against The Citadel, the Mocs defense will need a similar effort, but they will be prepared.

The Citadel had high hopes but has not won a game through the fall and start of Spring.

Last week against Mercer the defense could not get off the field and the offense too until the second half to get going. The 28 points scored in the second half was promising but the Bulldogs were looking for a lot more this year.

Fearless Prediction: If Chattanooga keeps the defensive pressure up that they did last week against a similar offensive style, the Mocs should roll in this game. Chattanooga 35, The Citadel 21

Samford at Furman
Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription required)

Samford still has not settled in on who their quarterback will be between Liam Welch and Chris Oladokun. Welch played extremely well in last week’s win against Western Carolina. Oladokun played ok against East Tennessee State throwing the ball 54 times. Its hard to compare those performances apples to apples due to the quality of opponent. But Welch protected the ball much better and accounted for 5 touchdowns, so the start under center probably belongs to him. Furman entered the spring as a borderline top 10 team and handled their business against Western Carolina. Last week against VMI, the Paladins could not move the ball effectively and fell 14-13 Hamp Sisson was fairly effective when he had time to throw, but he took 9 sacks which constantly put his team behind the sticks.

Fearless Prediction: Furman is nearly a double digit favorite in this game. But the play on the field so far has not shown that to be a likely outcome. Look for Welch to get the start for Samford and lead them to the upset. Samford 26, Furman 17

E.J. Whitmire Stadium

Virginia Military at Western Carolina
Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription required)

Defense led the way for VMI in their win against Furman last week. You read that right. VMI won with DEFENSE. The Keydets racked up 9 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in their victory. The defense was led by player of the week Connor Riddle who had 13 tackles, 4.5 for loss and 2 sacks. If VMI’s defense can hold tight this season, then Reese Udinski and the offense can do the rest. Udinski is the best offensive player in the conference. He had an average game by his standards last week.  He should get on track this week against a Western Carolina team who struggles to stop anyone. The Catamounts have been the SoCon doormat for the last few years, taking the title from VMI. Western Carolina has been outscored 90-34 this spring after an 0-3 fall, although two games were against FBS opponents.

Fearless Prediction: VMI will get the offense rolling this week. Can the defense get two straight strong performances setting them up as a real threat in the SoCon? Virginia Military 44, Western Carolina 17

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