By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
The Bulldogs blitzed the Mountaineers for 38 first-half points and cruised to a 52-28 victory, The Citadel’s third of the season in as many games. In two weeks, The Citadel took down two of the teams – Georgia Southern being the other – expected to finish at the top of the Southern Conference. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were picked by many to finish eighth in the league.
Saturday’s upset win at Boone ended Appalachian State’s home winning streak at 18 games and left The Citadel 3-0 for the first time since 1992.
Thus far, The Citadel offense has been crisp and efficient. If they don’t put the ball on the ground, the Bulldogs are dangerous. Citadel’s defense has done its part, and the Bulldogs got a special teams score on Saturday as well.
Who knows how long The Citadel’s run will last? It will be a challenge to stay unbeaten with a game at North Carolina State this Saturday, but they have certainly taken care of two big roadblocks. They have six SoCon games remaining. Among them are road games against Samford (also 3-0 with a SoCon win), Wofford (3-0 and racking up yards and points like crazy), and Furman (toss out the Paladins’ three losses and any others to come – they get The Citadel the last week of the season when they could have an opportunity to derail the Bulldogs).
Regardless, The Citadel is the top story of the season so far. Coach Kevin Higgins noted this week how focused his team was while preparing for Appalachian State even after the big win over Georgia Southern. If the Bulldogs can maintain that kind of focus the rest of the year, 2012 could be one of the best for the program in some time.
If you’re the Big South Conference, you’re just hoping for some good news on Sept. 22 after the day that was Sept. 15. All seven Big South football teams lost on Sept. 15.
Stony Brook led at Syracuse in the second half before the Orangemen rallied for a 28-17 win. The other six losses were by an average margin of 33 points.
This week, the league has some better opportunities for wins, though it won’t be easy. Stony Brook (2-1) hosts Colgate in a battle of solid FCS programs. The teams have split the two games they’ve played. Liberty (0-3) plays a ranked FCS opponent for the third straight weekend when Lehigh comes to Lynchburg. Lehigh leads the series 2-0.
Charleston Southern (0-3) will be looking for its first win since Nov. 13, 2010 when it travels to Division II Shorter in Rome, GA. Three Big South teams go up a level for games this Saturday. Coastal Carolina (2-1) travels to Toledo while Gardner-Webb (0-3) ventures to Pittsburgh. Both of those games are first-time encounters between the schools. VMI (1-2) will be seeking its first win over Navy when these teams meet for the ninth time.
The lone Big South-vs.-SoCon contest this Saturday features Furman (0-3) visiting Presbyterian College (1-2). This game – the 55th meeting of the football teams – marks the first time the Paladins have played at PC since 1975. The Blue Hose have not beaten Furman since 1979. Furman had two tough losses before losing at Clemson. Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt whipped PC after the Blue Hose’s win over Brevard. Count this game as pretty big for both schools. The Paladins have only SoCon games after this, and they don’t want to enter that stretch winless. The Blue Hose, meanwhile, would love to knock off their rivals from just up the road, scoring a big win for their fledgling Division I program and for the Big South.
The rest of the SoCon schedule features conference games. Wofford (3-0, 1-0) has the week off.
Samford (3-0, 1-0) plays at Western Carolina (1-2, 0-1). Chattanooga (1-2, 0-0) hosts Appalachian State (1-2, 0-1). Georgia Southern (2-1, 0-1) welcomes Elon (2-1, 0-0) to Statesboro. The Appalachian State-Chattanooga game certainly bears watching. Both of these teams had designs on the conference title and the playoffs. A third loss in the season’s first month is going to be bad news for the loser of this game. Expect a good one.