Overall it was a solid week for the Southern Conference in week one. The conference went 6-3 in a week where all members played an our of conference opponent. Lets quickly hit on each team from last week.
The biggest win of the week was East Tennessee State’s over SEC member Vanderbilt. Quay Holmes led the way for the Buccaneers with 149 yards rushing, showing he can play with anyone on any field.
The biggest loss was preseason favorite Chattanooga losing at home in a non-conference matchup with Austin Peay, 30-20. The Mocs never got going in that game and fell to a superior Governors squad.
The Citadel was overwhelmed by an FBS ranked Coastal Carolina in a game no one expected them to win.
Mercer easily defeated a DII opponent in a manner in which they should have.
In a matchup of spring conference champions, VMI easily dispatched Davidson. Jakob Herres picked up where he left off with another two touchdowns.
Western Carolina showed they wont just walked over this season in a close loss to Eastern Kentucky.
Samford showed it has one of the best passing offenses in the country by thumping Tennessee Tech. Liam Welch threw for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Wofford beat Elon by two points with a field goal early in the fourth quarter and solid defense the rest of the way.
In the other big matchup, Furman showed that they are a different team from the spring in a solid, resume building win over a tough North Carolina A&T Team. Hamp Sisson threw for well over 300 yards to lead the Paladins to victory.
Week two brings eight more non-conference games, with Wofford taking an early bye. Three teams play FBS schools, and one plays a DII opponent.
Last Week: 6-3, Season: 6-3
#18 VMI at FBS Kent State (MAC) Saturday September 11, 11:30am ESPN3
In the past when VMI would matchup with an FBS school, you would chalk it up to an easy 50 point win for the opponent. But this is a different VMI team. Led by a triple threat on offense: QB Seth Morgan, RB Korey Bridy and WE Jakob Herres; and two stud linebackers on defense, VMI will be able to hang with this opponent. Kent State was blown out by Texas A&M in week one. The Golden Flashes open their home slate this weekend by welcoming the Keydets. VMI should be able to score some points on Kent State. Expect the Keydets to be extremely competitive and still in this game in the second half. As tempting as it is to pick the upset here, the FBS depth will help Kent State ultimately get the win.
Fearless Prediction: Kent State 38, VMI 30
Charleston Southern (Big South) at The Citadel Saturday September 11, 2:00pm ESPN+
Charleston Southern will open their season on the road this week after not playing in week one. Incidentally, the Buccaneers were initially supposed to start their season against Mercer before the Bears shuffled their schedule. Charleston Southern should wind up in the middle of the Big South pack this year. The Citadel opened their season with a loss against an FBS opponent last week. El Cid looks to contend in a wide open Southern Conference this year. The defense is still a huge question mark. How they play against an opponent on their level this week will tell us a lot about the Bulldogs. On offense, youll get the normal triple option. This is a tough game to call. But lets give a slight edge to the home team here.
Fearless Prediction: The Citadel 24, Charleston Southern 21
Furman at Tennessee Tech (OVC) Saturday September 11, 2:30pm ESPN+
Furman had a tough spring and people were wondering what the carry over would be to the fall. After one game, it looks like the Paladins are back in the saddle. They dominated on both sides of the ball in their opening win against a really tough North Carolina A&T team. Hamp Sisson torched the Aggies for 362 yards and 3 touchdowns while the defense held one of the best running backs in the FCS, Jah-Maine Martin to just 33 yards. This week they travel to Tennessee Tech, a team who was blown out in week one by another Southern Conference member, Samford. Expect the Paladins to roll over Tech this week and set themselves to take a run at the conference crown again.
Fearless Prediction: Furman 44, Tennessee Tech 13
Mercer at FBS #1 Alabama (SEC) Saturday September 11, 4:00pm SECN
We wont know much about Mercer until week three and beyond. They started their season with a drubbing of an NAIA school, Point University, 69-0. The Bears were able to use 3 quarterbacks and a large assortment of running backs. They did exactly what you would want your team to do against a lesser opponent. They won big and gave game reps to their depth. This week they will be the lesser opponent as they travel to face the best team in college football, Alabama. Mercer wont compete this weekend but it doesn’t mean anything. Judge the Bears starting next week.
Fearless Prediction: Alabama 68, Mercer 0
Western Carolina at FBS #4 Oklahoma (Big 12) Saturday September 11, 7:00pm
Western Carolina put up a good fight in Kerwin Bell’s debut as head coach. The Catamounts competed all game, losing by just three points to Eastern Kentucky. It was a one point game late in the third. Teams learning to win keep it close but can’t finish. Eventually they will. The Catamounts did find out that they do have a quarterback. Rogan Wells played well. Things are heading in the right direction in Cullowhee even if the record won’t show it. This week, the Catamounts face one of the top teams in the FBS, Oklahoma. Don’t worry about the final score or the stat line. Lets see what Western Carolina does from here.
Fearless Prediction: Oklahoma 55, Western Carolina 10
Chattanooga at North Alabama (Big South) Saturday September 11, 7:00pm ESPN+
Chattanooga entered their home opener with a lot of expectation for the season. They were projected to win the Southern Conference and were eager to pick up a win against a tough out of conference opponent. Unfortunately, the Mocs were outclassed by Drayton Ellis and Austin Peay. There is a lot of football to be played, so Chattanooga can bounce back. But they must win this weekend against North Alabama who hung with Southeastern Louisiana for three quarters. The Mocs defense will need to be better and match its preseason expectation if they are going to get back on track. The offense struggled all night against Austin Peay. This is going to be a closer game than anticipated. If the Mocs lose here, there will be lots of questions moving forward.
Fearless Prediction: Chattanooga 17, North Alabama 13
Samford at Tennessee-Martin (OVC) Saturday September 11, 7:00pm ESPN+
Samford loudly announced that they intend to compete this year with a blowout 52-14 win over Tennessee Tech. That the Bulldogs scored 52 points is not a surprise. Allowing just 14? That is a surprise. Samford is usually a team who plays in high scoring shootout games where their offense has to outscore their porous defense. Is this a sign of change? Its only one week against an overmatched opponent, but Bulldog fans have to be optimistic. UT-Martin took one on the chin against an FBS opponent in week one. They will probably do the same here. Liam Welch looks like he could be a Walter Payton candidate. To do so, he has to take his team to wins over teams they should beat. That’s exactly what he will do here.
Fearless Prediction: Samford 49, UT-Martin 24
D-II UVA-Wise at East Tennessee State Saturday September 11, 7:30pm ESPN+
The Buccaneers pulled off a big upset when they beat Vanderbilt last week. The game was not close as the Buccaneer defense suffocated the Commodore offense and Quay Holmes and the ETSU run game controlled their side of the ball as well. The Buccaneers went from a maybe in the conference race to a potential favorite. But be cautioned, and don’t over react, they still have to play those conference games. They should avoid the letdown game this weekend when they host a DII opponent. But look for Holmes to be near 200 yards.
Fearless Prediction: East Tennessee State 30, UVA-Wise 0
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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