It’s entirely possible that the SoCon title – or at least, the automatic qualifier playoff bid – will be decided this weekend. The Big South AQ will also be decided this week or next.
By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
Yes, with two weeks remaining after this weekend, the SoCon chase could be done. That’s because one team will complete its league slate Nov. 3 and four others will be done Nov. 10.
will be the first SoCon team to wrap up its conference games when it hosts Appalachian State
Nov. 3. If the Eagles beat the Mountaineers, they’ll have the automatic bid even if they finish tied with Wofford
. Georgia Southern beat the Terriers to own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the automatic bid.
Wofford has games at Samford
this weekend and at home against Chattanooga
remaining. They need both to claim a tie or an outright should the Eagles stumble this weekend. If Wofford and Georgia Southern both win Saturday and Western Carolina
upsets Chattanooga, the Terriers could do no worse than second.
Appalachian State must beat Georgia Southern and then Furman
on Nov. 10 and get some help to finish at the top. Chattanooga would have to beat Western Carolina, Wofford, and Elon
– and get some help – to get in the top spot.
Over in the Big South, Stony Brook
has only two games remaining as the Seawolves will take their open date on Nov. 17. It seems likely the Seawolves would beat VMI
at home this week and win at Liberty
to wrap up the league crown. A win this week clinches at least a tie for the Big South title.
, Charleston Southern
, and Liberty are all 2-1 in the league. Liberty has the best shot of the three because it hasn’t yet played Stony Brook. If the Flames can sandwich wins over Charleston Southern and VMI around an upset of Stony Brook on Nov. 10, the Flames could sneak in as the Big South automatic qualifier.
If Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern both win their next two games, they would battle for second place or even a tie with Stony Brook (though the Seawolves would have the tiebreaker).
It will be an interesting three weeks. Now, for a glimpse at this week’s games.
GPI#46 Coastal Carolina (4-4, 2-1) at GPI#89 Gardner-Webb (2-6, 1-2), 1:30 p.m.
Coastal Carolina leads the series 7-2. The Chanticleers have been running, running, running lately. They are averaging 253 yards per game on the ground over the last three games. In a pretty strong stat, Coastal Carolina is 41-5 all-time when it rushes for more than 200 yards. The Bulldogs finally beat Coastal Carolina last year to end a seven-game losing streak in the series. They have not beaten the Chants in Boiling Springs, though.
GPI#16 Appalachian State (6-3, 4-2) at GPI#2 Georgia Southern (7-1, 6-1), 2 p.m.
Appalachian State leads the series 14-12-1. Of all the games this weekend that have an impact on which teams wind up in the league’s top three spots – and pretty much all of the games will have an impact – this game leads the way. Georgia Southern wins, they own the automatic playoff berth. They lose, and things are opened back up bit. Appalachian State needs this one. They don’t want to leave things to chance with four losses and a rivalry game with Furman to go.
GPI#57 Elon (3-5, 1-4) at GPI#40 The Citadel (4-4, 3-3), 2 p.m.
The Citadel leads the series 6-5. Running versus throwing. Elon puts the ball in the air a lot. The Citadel likes to run that triple option. The Bulldogs still have an opportunity to win seven games, but they’ll have to win out – beginning with this one. The Phoenix are in a similar spot. Winning out gives them a winning season.
GPI#10 Wofford (7-1, 5-1) at GPI#35 Samford (5-3, 3-3), 3 p.m.
Samford leads the series 5-4. The Terriers have a simple task list. Beat Samford (and then Chattanooga) to guarantee at least a tie for the title and with some help, maybe even the title outright. One more win should guarantee a playoff spot. Samford has seen its strong start come to a halt in recent weeks. The Bulldogs remain a tough out. A win here and again next week means they can go to Kentucky on the final weekend with seven wins.
GPI#21 Chattanooga (4-4, 3-2) at GPI#80 Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7), 3:30 p.m.
Chattanooga leads the series 22-16. Chattanooga still has a shot at seven wins as well as the playoffs. They have to win out, too, however. Doesn’t everyone? In this matchup of the league’s second-best defense (Chattanooga) against the second-worst offense in the SoCon (Western Carolina), you’d think the Mocs have the edge. Of course, the Mocs have the only offense worse than Western Carolina.
GPI#95 Charleston Southern (4-4, 2-1) at GPI#79 Liberty (3-5, 2-1), 3:30 p.m.
Liberty leads the series 17-2. Liberty has won the last six in the series, and it has won its last 16 conference home games. They’ll face a Buccaneer squad that is as hot as any team in the league. They are second in the league in rushing at 207 yards a game. Running back Teddy Allen has run for 269 yards and six touchdowns in his last two games.
GPI#113 VMI (2-6, 1-3) at GPI#13 Stony Brook (8-1, 4-0), 6 p.m.
Stony Brook leads the series 4-0. The Seawolves have begun campaigning Miguel Maysonet for the Payton Award. He is one rushing touchdown from the career Big South record and 132 yards rushing away from breaking his own season mark of 1,633. The Seawolves will try to put behind the weather events of this week aside for a while and win their 12th in a row at home. VMI, on the other hand, has lost its last 13 games on the road. They are second in the Big South with 14 sacks.