SoCon Week 1 Recap & Week 2 Preview

A strong week 1 propelled another Southern Conference squad into the StatsPerform FCS Top 25 rankings - who will be next?

Samford football running out of the tunnel
Source: Samford Athletics

SoCon Nationally Ranked Teams Heading into Week 2

StatsPerform/AFCA Coaches Poll

  • ETSU #9/#8
  • UTC #11/#10
  • Mercer #23/#23
  • Samford #25/RV
  • Furman RV/RV

The SoCon enters week two with two thirds of the conference ranked or receiving votes in the national polls. This does not come as a surprise to commissioner Schaus, or any of the six programs listed above. Let’s take a quick look at how they got there, and what we can look forward to in the week two matchups:

Thursday September 1st

VMI 10 - Wake Forest 44

The Keydets held Wake Forest to 23 points in the 1st half, 14 of which came on 3rd-and-5+ situations. Getting the defense off the field, and keeping Seth Morgan on the field this week will be a top priority in Lexington.

VMI will look forward to returning home to face a familiar foe in the Bucknell Bison. The Bison lead the series 3-2, and faced off in four consecutive seasons with the Keydets taking the last matchup in a 2016 3OT thriller in Lewisburg. VMI must capitalize on special teams in the kicking game and the field position battle - Bucknell lost their opener to Towson after missing two FG’s in regulation and an extra point to keep them alive in OT.

Week 2 Prediction: VMI 31 - Bucknell 17

ETSU 44 - Mars Hill 7

Veteran RB Jacob Saylors added two TD’s on the ground and one in the air as ETSU and first-year HC George Quarles rolled over DII Mars Hill to begin their 2022 campaign. The Bucs have garnered the respect from the media and the league in a short time since only returning to the FCS level in 2015, and are looking to stay within their earned top-10 ranking as they enter conference play.

Looking forward to seeing ETSU’s high-powered offense face a test against a conference opponent as they travel to Charleston to face The Citadel. However, this may be more of a quiz - the Bucs will get it done in the air with veteran weapons like Tyler Riddell and Will Huzzie to compliment the wheels on Jacob Saylors, and quickly put this game away.

Week 2 Prediction: ETSU 45 - The Citadel 10

Samford 27 - Kennesaw St 17

This was the game of the week in SoCon action. Unranked Samford dethroned a preseason top-10 and ASUN Championship favorite Kennesaw State with an electric offensive performance fueled by QB Michael Heirs. Heirs and the Bulldogs amassed over 400 yards of offense and 4 passing TD’s to knock off the Owls in week 1. This sent shockwaves through the SoCon as the Dogs were picked to finish towards the bottom of the pack in the preseason polls.

To knock them off their high, Samford visits the reigning national champion Georgia in a battle of the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Week 2 Prediction: Samford 3 - Georgia 55

Saturday, September 3rd

Western Carolina 52 - Charleston Southern 38

WCU built and early first half lead behind a monster day for QB Carlos Davis that saw him amassing 433 yards through the air with 6 TD’s. The Catamounts’ defense could be their pitfall this season as they enter SoCon play, but if they keep the offense rolling like week 1, they are going to be an exciting team to watch.

Western travels to Atlanta this weekend where they face a Georgia Tech team coming off of a shaky performance against Clemson this past Monday. Interested to see how Davis performs under center against an FBS defense, and if his arm will get the Cats into the endzone against the Yellow Jackets.

Week 2 Prediction: WCU 10 - Georgia Tech 38

Chattanooga 31 - Wofford 0

Update, it looks like the Mocs have what it takes to chase a SoCon crown. Ailym Ford had a strong day, putting the cherry-on-top of UTC’s shutout victory with an 86-yard dash to cap the scoring in the second half. Wofford’s afternoon was plagued by turnovers, all three of which led to Chattanooga touchdowns.

Wofford gets the opportunity to bounce back as they host CAA opponent Elon, who had Vandy on the ropes last weekend. Chattanooga heads to Charleston for the first of two trips this season - however this weekend is Charleston, Illinois as they face a struggling, but resilient Eastern Illinois program. Despite losing 11 out of their last 12, EIU plays some extremely close games, including a seven point loss to FBS Northern Illinois just last week.

Week 2 Predictions: Wofford 6 - Elon 31, UTC 28 - EIU 20

Mercer 16 - Auburn 42

Always a tough task facing a blue blood, however Mercer seems to consistently keep it respectable. QB Fred Payton is going to give SoCon defenses some fits this season, but their week two bye week may prove to be a mistake given the daunting schedule that lies ahead of the Bears. They will return to Five-Star Stadium on September 17th when The Citadel comes to town.

Week 3 Prediction: Mercer 42 - The Citadel 14

Furman 52 - North Greenville 0

Like ETSU, Furman was able to enjoy a week 1 warmup against DII NGU. TE Ryan Miller pulled in a touchdown and looks to continue his successful career with the Paladins. While their performance on Saturday was enough to receive votes in the national polls, the roles are reversed this weekend as they face Clemson in Death Valley. Keep an eye on the Dins as they enter the SoCon stretch with an exciting matchup at Samford on October 1st. I see them splitting the next two weeks between Clemson and Charleston Southern.

Week 2 Prediction: Furman 7 - Clemson 48