By MATT YOGUS
Georgia Southern, Samford, and that’s it.
Everybody else in the Southern Conference lost on the opening weekend, and for some of them, it came as quite a surprise.
The losers against Football Bowl Subdivision teams -- Wofford lost 69-3 to Baylor, Western Carolina lost 45-24 at Middle Tennessee State and Elon got smoked, 70-0, by Georgia Tech -- weren’t too surprised, but Furman, The Citadel and Chattanooga’s losses to Football Championship Subdivision teams left everybody feeling a bit shell shocked.
Even Appalachian State, which lost on the road at Montana, underwhelmed with a 30-6 final score.
“College football more so than ever, there’s just a ton of parity,” first-year ASU head coach Scott Satterfield said. “I think week in and week out, you have to show up and be prepared to play any given day. It doesn’t matter if you’re ranked or not.
“There are no gimmee games any more.”
On Tuesday during the SoCon’s weekly teleconference, everybody seemed much more concerned about the future then what happened over the weekend.
“I think everybody in the league has got their own concerns,” The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said, after the Bulldogs lost 32-29 at home to Charleston Southern. “Certainly everybody is trying to take care of their own house, their own shop, and trying to put things back together again. You’d like to think that between week one and week two, there’ll be significant improvement.”
Looking to stay undefeated
Only Samford was satisfied with the weekend’s performance, recording the program’s first FBS win against Sun Belt upstart Georgia State with a 31-21 win in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
Even Georgia Southern, which beat Savannah State 77-9, was unhappy with the way things went. Head coach Jeff Monken described GSU’s as executing with “poor fundamentals.”
Samford will have another shot at an FBS win, with a game on Saturday at Arkansas at 7 p.m.
“I know they’re very good up front,” said Samford defensive coordinator Bill D’Ottavio, who is acting as head coach in place of Pat Sullivan, who continues recovering from back surgery, “and I know our offensive people are very concerned.”
The SoCon team with the best chance of remaining unbeaten is Georgia Southern, which plays host to Northeast Conference opponent St. Francis, which has yet to play its first game.
First conference tilt
Wofford and The Citadel both want to shake off opening-week losses.
Wofford coach Mike Ayers wasn’t too happy with the Terriers’ 69-3 loss at Baylor.
“We ran into a buzzsaw down there at Baylor,” Ayers said. “We were going into the game and we felt like they have a great team, tremendous skill positions. We felt like we were going to have to keep the ball away from them as often as we could, and offensively, we struggled.”
Ayers knows that The Citadel, which lost to neighboring Charleston Southern, is just as eager to start conference play 1-0. The teams meet in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I’m sure that they didn’t like what happened to them this past week,” Ayers said, “so you’ve got two teams that are going to be going hard for their first win.”
Around the league
Western Carolina plays its second FBS team of the season on Saturday, traveling to Virginia Tech at 1:30 p.m.
Chattanooga hopes to match Samford’s week-one success when the Mocs visit Georgia State at 2 p.m.
Head coach Russ Huesman knows that won’t be easy, considering Samford’s rising talent.
“Samford’s one of the best teams in our league,” Hiesman said, “there’s no question about that.”
Furman, which lost its opener at Gardner-Webb, 28-21, faces Coastal Carolina on the road at 6 p.m., and Appalachian State plays its home opener against North Carolina A&T at 6 p.m.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.