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SoCon Notebook: SoCon has no luck in openers against FBS

Last Weekend's FCS over FBS upsets
McNeese State 27,  Middle Tennessee State, 21
Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3
Youngstown State 31, Pittsburgh 17
UT-Martin 20, Memphis 17

Southern Conference Standings

                      Conf.    All
Samford                1-0    1-0
Ga. Southern         0-0      1-0
The Citadel           0-0    1-0
W. Carolina           0-0    1-0
Wofford                0-0    1-0
Appalachian St.     0-0    0-1
Chattanooga          0-0    0-1
Elon                      0-0    0-1
Furman                  0-1    0-1

Saturday's Games
    Coastal Carolina at Furman, 5 p.m.
    Georgia Southern at The Citadel, 6 p.m.
    Montana at Appalachian State, 6:30 p.m.
    Western Carolina at Marshall, 7 p.m.
    Lincoln (MO) at Wofford, 7 p.m.
    N.C. Central at Elon, 7 p.m.
    Chattanooga at Jacksonville St., 7 p.m.
    West Alabama at Samford, 7 p.m.

    While there were a handful of upsets around the nation among Football Championship Subdivision versus Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the Southern Conference wasn’t so lucky.
    Elon, Appalachian State and Chattanooga each dropped an opener to an FBS squad.
    Elon (0-1) got the worst of it, getting blanked, 62-0, on the road at North Carolina.
    Second-year Phoenix head coach Jason Swepson, whose team will face North Carolina Central (1-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, in a rematch of a 2011, 23-22 win by Elon, wants to put the UNC loss behind him.
    “You’re not as good as you thought, you’re not as bad as you think,” said Swepson. “We’ve just got to move forward. (UNC) was a great learning experience for us, and now we’ve got to get ready for Central. We had a barn-burner last year with Central. We won by one point late in the fourth quarter.”
    Appalachian State (0-1) and Chattanooga (0-1) were in their games against East Carolina and South Florida until the fourth quarter.
    The Mountaineers fell, 35-13, to ECU in a game that was closer than the score indicated.
    “We played good on Saturday,” said ASU coach Jerry Moore. “We got beat, but we played good. We played hard. You have to learn how to play hard.”
    Things don’t get any easier for the Mountaineers Saturday when they host Montana (1-0) at 6:30 p.m.
    The Grizzlies are 2-0 all-time against ASU, most recently a 24-17 win in the 2009 FCS playoffs. 
    “We’ve lost two to Montana that were heartbreakers — one in overtime and one with one second to go,” Moore said. “But we’ve been there, and we’ve won games like that.”
    Chattanooga (0-1) lost, 34-13 to South Florida. It was the third-straight, season-opening loss for the Mocs, who fell to Nebraska in the 2011 season opener and App State in 2010.
    “I don’t know if we can gauge whether we’re good or not based on that game, to be honest,” said UTC coach Russ Huesman. “I don’t think we played great, but I’m sure South Florida had something to do with that.”
    Chattanooga will face Jacksonville State Saturday at 7 p.m. for the third-straight season. The Mocs split with JSU in 2010 and 2011.

    Under first-year head coach Mark Speir, Western Carolina (1-0) got off to a happy start, defeating Mars Hill, 42-14, on Thursday.
    The Catamounts, who were 1-10 in 2011, look for their first 2-0 start since 2006 when they hit the road to face Marshall (0-1) at 7 p.m., Saturday.
    Marshall lost over the weekend, 69-34, to No. 11 (FBS) West Virginia.
    Speir, a former assistant coach for Appalachian State and WCU before that, has a lot of memories of facing Marshall when it was a member of the SoCon in the early 1990s.
    “When you go into Huntington, West Virginia,” said Speir, “you know it’s football country.”

A similar look
    No. 3 (FCS) Georgia Southern and The Citadel each won convincingly in their respective season openers, and will face off Saturday at 6 p.m. in Charleston, S.C.
    Both are option teams, and GSU coach Jeff Monken knows better than to take The Citadel lightly.
    The Bulldogs missed a field goal in 2011 as time expired in Paulson Stadium and had a pair of extra points blocked, falling to the Eagles, 14-12.
    “They’ve got a great group of kids that play hard every week,” Monken said. “Whoever they’re playing, they fight tooth-and-nail. I coached at the Naval Academy for six years, and I have a great respect for kids who go to a college that’s not easy. They don’t get a lot of time off or a lot of time away, and they have other obligations besides going to school and playing their sport.”
NOTES: The game between The Citadel and GSU is Saturday’s only SoCon matchup. … Furman fell to Samford, 24-21 in SoCon play over the weekend. The Paladins return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. at home against Coastal Carolina. Samford faces West Alabama at home Saturday at 6 p.m. … Wofford (1-0), which defeated Gardner-Webb, 34-7, over the weekend, plays its home opener Saturday at 7 p.m. against Division II Lincoln University.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.