Southern Conference Week 3 Preview

Eight of the nine teams took the field this past week, but every game except one was decided by 17 or more points. Lets take a quick look back at last week’s games before previewing and picking the games to come in week 3.

Mercer wasn’t expected to compete with Alabama, and they didn’t. But they did look respectable with a 48-14 loss.

As expected, Western Carolina was completely overwhelmed by Oklahoma to the tune of a 69-0 loss.

VMI fell behind Kent State 39-0 at the half and was never competitive in the game. That should shock a lot of people. Seth Morgan never got going.

The Citadel dug itself a 21-0 hold and could not climb out in their loss to Charleston Southern

Furman looks like they are ready to challenge for the conference title after beating Tennessee Tech 26-0. All phases are clicking for the Paladins so far.

Chattanooga bounced back from their opening week loss to Austin Peay by shutting out North Alabama 20-0. The Moc defense showed why they are considered one of the best in the nation allowing just 90 total yards.

In the only close game, Samford blew a 17-0 start in a 33-27 loss to UT Martin. Liam Welch struggled to get the Bulldog offense going after their first two possessions.

East Tennessee State followed their win against Vanderbilt by doing what they needed to in handling UVA-Wise.

Week three will see our first conference game of the season and six more out of conference matchups with Mercer taking a bye week this weekend.

Last Week: 6-2, Season: 12-5

Chattanooga at FBS Kentucky (SEC) Saturday September 18 12:00pm ESPN+/SEC Network

Chattanooga shook off their loss to Austin Peay and took it out on North Alabama last week on their way to a 20-0 win. The Mocs defense allowed just 90 total yards and sacked Jaylen Gipson six times , led by Devonnsha Maxwell with 3.5. The Mocs also picked off Gipson twice in the rout, one of which was returned by Jerrell Lawson for a touchdown. It will take another herculean effort on defense if the Mocs want to take down an FCS opponent. The biggest issue for Chattanooga so far has been the passing attack. They have played two quarterbacks who have combined for 43% completion with just one touchdown and four interceptions. That is not sustainable no matter how good the defense plays. Running back Aylim Ford has been the bright sport averaging 87 yards per game so far to go with two touchdowns. The Mocs may hang with Kentucky for a while, but don’t expect them to score a lot of points. They should be looking forward to Southern Conference play after this week,

Fearless Prediction: Kentucky 27, Chattanooga 7

#22 VMI at Cornell (Ivy) Saturday September 18 2:00pm ESPN+

VMI was expected to be significantly more competitive against Kent State last week. Instead, the Keydets looked like a completely overmatched FCS team against an FBS opponent. Seth Morgan looked like a freshman, something he never looked like in the spring. He went just 10 of 24 for 55 yards with three interceptions before being replaced. The team as a whole will have to be much better this weekend. Don’t read too much into a big blowout loss to an FBS opponent unless the offensive struggles continue. We really don’t know what to expect from Cornell as they have not played in two years. The Big Red was picked to finish last in the league this year. VMI should be able to get back on track. Look for a nice bounce back game from Morgan where he looks for his security blanket, Jakob Herres, early and often

Fearless Prediction: VMI 38, Cornell 20

Samford at Western Carolina Saturday September 18 2:30pm ESPN+

This will mark the first conference game of the season in the Southern Conference. Both teams are coming off a loss. Western Carolina was expected to be blown out by Oklahoma and they were. Samford was expected to beat Tennessee-Martin and got out to a 17-0 lead but wound up losing 33-27. Liam Welch had arguably his worst game as the Samford quarterback with only 217 yards, two interceptions and took three sacks, one of which resulted in a safety. The Bulldog defense played admirably against the pass with three interceptions including a 61-yard pick six. But the run game yielded 268 yards. That keeps the ball out of Welch’s hands and the opposing defense fresh. For Western Carolina, throw out last week’s result. If you look back to their opening week youll see that the Catamounts got solid offensive performances out of Rogan Wells, TJ Jones and Raphael Williams. The Catamounts seem to be improving under Kerwin Bell already. This game could be one of those classic shootouts that Samford tends to play. WCU will put up a strong fight, but the Bulldogs will bounce back for the win.

Fearless Prediction: Samford 55, Western Carolina 49

#24 Kennesaw State (Big South) at Wofford Saturday September 18 6:00pm ESPN+

This could be a very important non-conference game when it comes time to decide the playoff bracket. Both teams have playoff aspirations and have appeared in the playoffs as recent as 2019 where they met in the first round. That game was a back-and-forth affair win by Kennesaw 28-21. The score was close, but the statistics tilted significantly to Kennesaw. Will the same happen this year? Much like the 2019 game, this game will be played at Wofford. Both teams will look to not only establish the run but maintain it. This may be the quickest game played this year. Kennesaw struggled with an NAIA opponent and then lost to and FBS opponent while Wofford narrowly defeated Elon in their only game so far this year. This game will come down to whoever can consistently run the ball and mix in the pass as needed. Unlike the playoff game, this one goes to the home team.

Fearless Prediction: Wofford 24, Kennesaw 20

North Greenville (DII) at The Citadel Saturday September 18 6:00pm ESPN3

If there was a time for The Citadel to get off the mat, its this weekend. After getting hammered by an FBS team and then losing to a team who hasn’t played in two years, the Bulldogs are struggling.  They closed the spring season strong with a couple of wins, but that doesn’t seem to have carried over to 2021. There will be no excuses this week as they play a Division II opponent. The Citadel has been outscored 55-14 in the first half so far. They should use this opportunity to start fast and get themselves on track before conference play starts.

Fearless Prediction: The Citadel 33, North Greenville 16

Furman at NC State (ACC) Saturday September 18 7:30pm ESPN3

Furman has started the season 2-0, letting the FCS world know they are not going to fold like it appeared in the spring. Last week, The Paladins picked up a dominant shutout victory over Tennessee Tech., 26-0. Furman held the Golden Eagles to just 121 total yards of offense while racking up 371 themselves. The Paladins will want to finish more drives with touchdowns. They settled for four field goals in the win. That wont work against better teams. Hamp Sisson and Devin Wynn have led the Paladin offense and will need to do so again against an FBS opponent. NC State is down two starters on defense which will give the Paladins some hope. Look for Furman to hang in this game longer than expected before ultimately falling.

Fearless prediction: NC State 30, Furman 20.

Delaware State (MEAC) at #16 East Tennessee State Saturday September 18 7:30pm ESPN+

East Tennessee State has rocketed up the poll with its win over Vanderbilt. They avoided the trap by easily handling their DII opponent last week. The Buccaneer offense has been led by running back Quay Holmes with 211 yards and two touchdowns so far. ETSU is also getting solid quarterback play from Tyler Riddell who has only turned the ball over once.  The Buccaneers also boast a solid defense allowing less than 300 yards per game. This week they’ll play Delaware State from the MEAC. This is a game East Tennessee State should easily win. Coach Sanders has them playing the right way so they will not let down heading into conference play

Fearless Prediction: East Tennessee State 27, Delaware State 9

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