The SoCon’s last conference unbeaten fell in dramatic fashion last week. Chattanooga went to overtime with Wofford. After Joe Newman scored on the first play of overtime and the extra point was made, Chattanooga had their turn with the ball. Ailym Ford scored for the Mocs who decided to go for two. The pass fell incomplete and Wofford escaped with the win. The SoCon race is still a wide open, with three teams with one conference loss and another three with two conference losses. There is a lot of football to be played and the Southern conference has been wildly unpredictable this year.
Conference Game of the Week:
Furman (5-3, 4-1) at Chattanooga (4-4, 3-1)
Where: Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, TN
When: Saturday November 2nd, 2:00 PM
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ ($$/subscription req’d)
Furman was rolling before they fell to The Citadel a couple of weeks ago. The Paladins bounced back to easily defeat Western Carolina, but the schedule doesn’t slow down from here. Furman only has three conference games left to make an impact. They’ll see Chattanooga, VMI and Wofford, and there is not an easy game in the bunch. Furman has looked like the best team in the conference all year; now is their time to prove it.
Key Player: QB Darren Grainger is the engine that drives the Furman offense. He has been mostly excellent. But Paladin fans found out what happens when he is not in the game against The Citadel a couple weeks ago. Grainger threw for only 44 yards while completing just 5 of 25 attempts. The offense struggled and the team lost. Grainger will need to be consistent and solid the rest of the way. If he performs the way he has most of the season, Furman should be in good shape;
Chattanooga took a calculated gamble in overtime last week and it didn’t work out. The Mocs may look back at the end of the year and wonder what could have been. Without winning the conference, Chattanooga is most likely going to be left out of the post season party due to their non-conference record. While the tough non-conference schedule set the up for conference success, they cant afford any further missteps. All of the teams remaining on their schedule are in the quagmire of competitors for the league title.
Key Player: Freshman RB Ailym Ford has been exactly what the Mocs have needed on offense. Ford in the top ten in rushing in the country with 892 yards. His nine rushing touchdowns are also in the top 20 in the nation. Watching Ford run, you forget he is a freshman. In what is sure to be a ground battle this weekend, the Mocs need Ford to have a game much like he had last week against Wofford.
Fearless Prediction: This game will be a ground battle but Furman is the more talented team. They’ll pick up the win. Furman 38, Chattanooga, 27
Fearless predictions for the rest of the slate
Western Carolina (1-7, 0-5) at VMI (4-4, 3-2), Saturday November 2nd, 1:30 PM, Alumni Memorial Field, Lexington, VA, ESPN+ ($$/subscription req’d)
This is a game VMI must win to continue taking a step forward as a SoCon competitor. They will do so this week. VMI 37, Western Carolina 28
The Citadel (5-4, 3-2) at East Tennessee State (2-6, 0-5), Saturday November 2nd, 3:30 PM, Greene Stadium, Johnson City, TN, ESPN College Extra, ESPN3 (cable subscription req’d)
The Citadel should keep marching forward this week behind Brandon Rainey. The Citadel 27, East Tennessee State 13
Wofford (5-2) at FBS Clemson (8-0), Saturday November 2nd, 4:00 PM, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC, ACC Network, Watch ESPN (subscription req’d)
Sorry Wofford, no shot this week. Clemson 62, Wofford 7
Samford (4-4, 3-2) at Mercer (3-5, 2-3), Saturday November 2nd, 7:00 PM, Five Star Stadium, Macon, GA, ESPN+ ($$/subscription req’d)
Samford has overperformed this year versus expectations while Mercer has underperformed. That will continue this week. Samford 27, Mercer 19
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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