Southern Conference Week 10 Preview

The Southern Conference has started to separate itself as we get later in the season. There are four teams with one conference loss and everyone else has at least three conference losses. That’s four teams with playoff aspirations, but there wont be four seats at the table for the SoCon when all is said and done. There are three weeks left in the season and each week will feature a matchup between two of the four top teams.

Chattanooga held Furman to 157 total yards while racking up 418 of their own in a 13-3 victory over the Paladins. Tyrell Price and Aylim Ford both rushed for over 100 yards for the Mocs.

Samford took a 45-27 lead with four and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter against VMI. It wasn’t enough as the Keydets stormed back with the final 19 points of the game to pick up an exciting 46-45 win. Seth Morgan was responsible for 516 yards of offense.

Western Carolina rolled to a 34-7 halftime lead over Wofford and never looked back; picking up a 41-21 win, their second in a row. Rogan Wells threw for 309 yards and 4Tds in the win in his return from injury. Wofford remained winless in conference.

Mercer fell behind 7-0 against The Citadel but scored the last 34 points in an easy road win. The Bears ran for 258 yards in the win

This week all teams are in action except Mercer. The Bears currently lead the conference by half a game at 5-1 with East Tennessee State, VMI and Chattanooga all sitting at 4-1.

Last Week: 3-1, Season: 34-14

#18 VMI at #14 East Tennessee State Saturday November 6, 1:00pm, ESPN+

VMI played with fire and nearly got burned last weekend against Samford. These two teams have played tight games the last three times. This one looked like it was going to be a blowout and the home team would be disappointed. But Seth Morgan helped power the Keydets all the way back with the final 19 points of the game to keep their SoCon title hopes alive. The Keydets are in good shape having already beaten two of the three other 1 loss teams in conference – Mercer and Chattanooga. Because of that, they control their own destiny. If they can beat East Tennessee State this weekend the Keydets will be well positioned for a playoff berth. Seth Morgan could be hitting his peak this season at the right time. His 516 total yards were by far his highest output of the season.

East Tennessee State is coming off their bye in a good spot for a playoff berth. They did lose to Chattanooga earlier in the season but have VMI and Mercer (along with WCU) remaining on the schedule. If they win out, they are a lock for the playoffs. One loss still puts them in good shape as long as that loss is to VMI or Mercer. But the Buccaneers won’t want to leave anything to chance. Quay Holmes should sail past the 1000 rushing yard mark this weekend against VMI. Holmes, Jacob Saylors and improving quarterback Tyler Riddell make for a solid offense averaging over 31 points per game. The strength of the team, however, is its defense. They allow just over 18 points per game and have forced 14 turnovers.

This should be a close game that can go either way. If Seth Morgan can get on a roll, the Keydets can leave with a victory. If the Buccaneers can control the clock with their run game and keep Morgan off the field, the Buccaneers will be victorious. In a matchup this close, I will go with the home team.

Fearless Prediction: East Tennessee State 30, VMI 28

Chattanooga at Wofford Saturday November 6, 1:30pm, ESPN+

Chattanooga completely shut down Furman last weekend in their 13-3 win. The Mocs allowed 157 total yards against the Paladins. They had four sacks on the game, along with seven tackles for loss. Chattanooga also held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. The Mocs allow 18 points per game and just at 300 yards per game. Offensively, the Mocs are led by a two headed monster at running back – Aylim Ford and Tyrell Price. Combined, Ford and Price combine for 177 yards per game on the ground and have scored 14 touchdowns (seven each). Chattanooga probably has to win the automatic bid in the Southern Conference based on their loss to Austin Peay in week one.

Wofford continues to struggle through the season after losing a game to Western Carolina that was never close. That was the seventh straight loss for the Terriers. Wofford got back to their basics against WCU, running for 309 yards. But that wasn’t enough. In the pass game they completed just four of twelve passes for 35 yards with a touchdown and interception. In a game where Western Carolina threw 39 passes, Wofford had zero sacks and three tackles for loss. This team is just not good enough on either side of the ball this year. They are getting outscored 33-19 on average and out gained by nearly 100 yards. Irvin Milligan continues to perform despite the lack of performance anywhere else. He has 719 yards and 8 touchdowns and is on pace to gain 1000 yards

Don’t over thing this game. Chattanooga is the better team by far and will prove it.

Fearless Prediction: Chattanooga 27, Wofford 3

Furman at Western Carolina Saturday November 6, 2:00pm, ESPN3

Furman is 4-4 at this point in the season and its exactly what you would expect from a mid-pack team in a conference. They’ve beaten the teams you would expect them to beat and lost to the teams that you would expect as well. The Paladins play solid defense, but they don’t get much out of their offense. To this point, they have played the conference teams that focus on the run game. It shows in their defensive metric as they allow 170 rushing yards per game, but just 4.3 yards per carry. Their final three games against the three conference teams who focus on the pass. It will be interesting to see how Furman adjusts to those defenses as the season closes.

After six straight losses to start the season, Western Carolina has rattled off two straight wins. Rogan Wells returned last week against Wofford and looked like he hadn’t missed a play. He threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns; but most importantly zero interceptions. He also ran for 48 yards and another touchdown. Defensively, they only allowed 352 yards which is good for a team that generally allows 455 yards and 41.5 points per game. The Catamounts will have an opportunity after this weekend to impact the SoCOn race as they finish with VMI and East Tennessee State.

This is an interesting game with two teams that wont make the playoffs. Can Western Carolina put together a respectable winning streak or will Furman continue their trend? Ill take the Paladins.

Fearless Prediction: Furman 34, Western Carolina 33

The Citadel at Samford Saturday November 6, 3:00pm, ESPN+

The Citadel enters this weekend with four straight losses. But they will still point to some success because they did beat their biggest rival, VMI.  In this current losing streak, the closest game for the Bulldogs has been 10 points. They allow 35 points per game and only score 23. They do not finish halves well. The Bulldogs have a -42 point scoring differential in the second quarter and -35 in the fourth quarter. Even though The Citadel doesn’t pass much (104 attempts), they have still taken 14 sacks on the year.

Samford had a looked like they were going to cruise to victory last week at VMI as they had a 38-20 half time lead. With 4:34 left in the game, the lead was 45-27. Then the defense allowed VMI to roar back with 19 points in the last 19 minutes of the game. As usual the Bulldog defense got gashed for 7.1 yards per play and allowed over 600 yards. Liam Welch is in range to throw for over 3500 yards on the season. They should be able to move the ball against The Citadel this weekend, but it will probably be in limited possessions due to the focus on the run from The Citadel.

Neither of these teams plays very good defense. So there should be a lot of points scored. I think Samford scores more.

Fearless Prediction: Samford 55, The Citadel 38