By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
Appalachian State came back on the road and defeated Georgia Southern, sending the Eagles to a 2012 conference record of 6-2 (GSU has only non-conference games remaining).
To the west, Wofford needed only to hold on to its eight-point lead in the waning moments at Samford to have sole possession of first place. Instead, the Bulldogs scored on the final play of regulation, tied the game with a two-point conversion, and won it in the second overtime.
With Chattanooga’s win at Western Carolina, the SoCon found itself with four two-loss teams (Georgia Southern at 6-2, Wofford and Appalachian State at 5-2, and Chattanooga at 4-2) along with a pair of three-loss teams hanging on for dear life (The Citadel and Samford at 4-3 each).
Georgia Southern has at least a share of the title. How much they’ll have to share it and with whom will get clearer this Saturday.
Chattanooga at Wofford has become a huge game. The Terriers get a share of the crown with a win. Chattanooga needs to beat Wofford and then Elon to get a piece of the pie.
Appalachian State gets part of the tie with a win over Furman Saturday. If the Mountaineers win Saturday and wind up in a two-way tie with Georgia Southern, they would then have the head-to-head advantage for the automatic playoff berth.
The Citadel and Samford, in reality, can only share second place since Georgia Southern can’t lose another conference game.
In fact, the Eagles are the only team still with a shot at an outright crown. If Furman beats Appalachian State and Chattanooga defeats Wofford and then loses to Elon, then Georgia Southern would be the lone two-loss team and the outright champ.
So this Saturday is big.
Meanwhile, Stony Brook locked up at least a share of the Big South football title with a 45-7 thumping of VMI. The last remaining obstacle for the Seawolves to overcome is Saturday’s game at Liberty.
The Flames are not the team they’ve been the past four seasons, but don’t think it’s a done deal for Stony Brook. If Liberty can pull the upset, we could be looking at a three-team tie for first once again (like two years ago) since both Liberty and Coastal Carolina would have shots at 5-1 conference records.
It should be a fun two-week conclusion to the 2012 regular season.
Coastal Carolina (5-4/3-1) at Presbyterian College (2-7/1-4), 1 p.m.
Coastal Carolina leads the series 4-1. The Chanticleer defense has been stout in league games thus far, allowing just 19.8 points a game. While Coastal goes for its fourth straight win, the Blue Hose are just hoping to finish strong with a pair of wins.
Chattanooga (5-4/4-2) at Wofford (7-2, 5-2), 1:30 p.m.
Wofford leads the series 10-8. The past couple of meetings between these squads have had some post-season implications, and this year is no different. Wofford may be starting their third quarterback after injuries to starter Brian Kass and backup Michael Weimer. That just increases the likelihood of the Terriers leaning on fullback Eric Breitenstein, who is 38 yards away from owning the school career rushing yards mark. Also expect the Mocs’ defensive front seven to be all about stopping number 7 in the black and gold.
The Citadel (5-4/4-3) at VMI (2-7/1-4), 1:30 p.m.
The Citadel leads the series 35-30-2. This is another installment of the classic series between southern military schools. The 68th meeting would seem to favor The Citadel, which has shown significant improvement and can get a seven-win season by beating two old rivals on the road (VMI and then Furman). Keydets quarterback Eric Kordenbrock stands just shy of 400 pass completions (he’s at 398), but he’ll face a tough pass defense. The Bulldogs are second in the SoCon allowing 165 yards passing per game.
Gardner-Webb (2-7/1-3) at Charleston Southern (4-5/2-2), 1:30 p.m.
Gardner-Webb leads the series 8-3. After two difficult seasons, Charleston Southern finds itself on the doorstep of a winning season. Getting there begins with this home game against Gardner-Webb, which has won the last three in the series. The Bucs will have to slow a Bulldogs offense that has averaged 29 points and 417 yards of total offense in its four conference games. Charleston Southern has become a pretty effective running team in recent weeks.
Samford (6-3/4-3) at Elon (3-6/1-5), 1:30 p.m.
Elon leads the series 7-3. Samford upped the potential for its season with the comeback, upset victory over Wofford. A victory at Elon gives them seven wins with a game remaining at Kentucky. Elon can move the ball, especially through the air, but hasn’t been able to turn that into victories. The Bulldogs could finish in a top two or three slot in the league, but winning in Elon will be challenging.
Howard at Georgia Southern (7-2/6-2), 2 p.m.
This is the first meeting. Georgia Southern is in a somewhat odd position of having finished its conference games with two weeks left in the season. They have this game with MEAC foe Howard before closing at Georgia next week. The Eagles will have either the automatic bid and maybe an outright title or they’ll go at large. All of that is up to someone else. They just don’t want to trip themselves up this week if the at-large berth is their route.
Furman (3-6/2-4) at Appalachian State (7-3/5-2), 3:30 p.m.
Furman leads the series 22-17-3. It’s simple for Appalachian State, given that this rivalry game marks the end of the regular season. Win and its in, possibly as the auto bid team from the SoCon. Lose, and well, who knows. Furman is facing its second losing season in three years. They could ease the pain of that and build momentum for the offseason by fashioning a three-game winning streak that would include wins over huge rivals Appalachian State and The Citadel.
Stony Brook (9-1/5-0) at Liberty (4-5/3-1), 3:30 p.m.
The series is tied at 2-2. Can anyone slow the Stony Brook freight train? Liberty is the last team with a shot at doing that in the regular season. The Seawolves are playing well and don’t seem headed to any sort of brick wall until at least the playoffs. The rushing attacks present a lot of interesting dynamics. Both teams have terrific running back duos. Stony Brooks offers Miguel Maysonet – who’s been unreal this season – and Marcus Coker. Liberty can counter with all-name team members – and solid runners – Aldreakis Allen and SirChauncey Holloway. Here’s how the quartet ranks in the Big South: 1. Maysonet (1,651 yards), 2. Allen (884), 3. Coker (825), and 4. Holloway (666).