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Two Top-10 SoCon squads set to battle it out

    After the first marquee matchup of the Southern Conference season, somebody's going to have a loss.
    No. 3 Appalachian State (3-1, 1-0 SoCon) travels to No. 8 Wofford (2-1, 1-0) Saturday at 3 p.m., and one of them will leave with a conference loss.
    Wofford coach Mike Ayers, whose Terriers' only loss was a 35-27 defeat at Clemson, knows what to expect when the Mountaineers come to town.
    "App is App," Ayers said. "Whether it's this year, or last year, or five years ago, they have a great scheme both offensively and defensively, they have great personnel and [ASU coach Jerry Moore] does a great job with getting their guys ready every week."
    Moore is equally respectful of Wofford, which runs a triple option offense that is averaging 481.7 yards per game.
    "You're just as tired mentally at the end of games like that as you are physically," said Moore about the assignment defense necessary to stop an option offense. "If you don't tackle well, it doesn't make any difference if you blow the assignment or not. You better be able to tackle and wrap people up."

Facing No. 1
    Elon (3-1, 1-0), which saw The Citadel miss two field goals in its 18-15, overtime win over the Bulldogs last Saturday, hasn't seen anything yet.
    The Citadel runs the option, but Elon will face the top rushing offense and No. 1 team in the country Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Elon, N.C. when Georgia Southern (3-0, 2-0) comes to town.
    "We've got the number one team in the country coming to our place," said first-year Elon coach Jason Swepson. "I told our players, 'You don't get that many opportunities for this kind of chance.'"
    To Swepson, facing the Eagles a week after playing another option team has its ups and downs.
    "It's good and bad that we played The Citadel first," he said. "We were able to get a look at it and see how our team stacks up against the triple option. The bad thing is that Georgia Southern has it on film."
    For the Eagles, the No. 1 ranking and last season's run the the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals don;t mean anything right now. The only goal is winning on Saturday.
    "We've got our sights set on Elon and trying to do the best we can to get prepared for them," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "If you polled every coach today in the [SoCon], probably every one of them will tell you the same thing. They want to win this week."
    Monken, in his second year as the head coach at GSU, says his goals haven't changed since the day he arrived.
    "My goal was to win the first game, and to win every game, and to win the national championship last year. That was my goal," he said. "That was my time frame. I don't have any patience for rebuilding or reloading or any of that stuff. Neither do our fans. They want to win, and so do I. This is a place you can win, and my goal is to win every game and to win the national championship, and that will be my goal as long as I'm here."

On the rebound
    Appalachian State didn't score an offensive touchdown in its 14-12 win last Saturday over Chattanooga (2-2, 0-1).
    The Chattanooga defense has improved in strides since former Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Huesman took over the program in 2009.
    "Last year we weren't good [on defense]," Huesman said, "so any strides would have been major."
    Still, the conference-opening loss to the Mountaineers at home was hard to take.
    "They were crushed after the game, I know that," said Huesman. "But it seemed like when we got back together on Sunday that they had put it behind them. You've got to. That's a hard one to handle, but it's a long season."
    The Citadel (1-2, 0-2) hosts Chattanooga Saturday at 6 p.m.
NOTES: Furman (2-1, 1-0) destroyed Presbyterian Saturday, 62-21. The Paladins return to SoCon action Saturday at 6 p.m. when they travel to Cullowhee, N.C. to take on Western Carolina. The Catamounts (1-2, 0-1) lost 52-20 at Georgia Southern last Saturday. ... Samford (1-2, 0-2) goes out of conference to host Gardner-Webb (1-2) Saturday at 3 p.m.

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

SoCon Standings
                     Conf.    All

Ga. Southern    2-0     3-0
Appalachian St 1-0    3-1
Elon                1-0    3-1
Furman            1-0    2-1
Wofford           1-0    2-1
Chattanooga    0-1    2-2
W. Carolina    0-1    1-2
Citadel              0-2    1-2
Samford              0-2    1-2

Saturday's Games
    No. 1 Georgia Southern at Elon, 1:30 p.m.
    Gardner-Webb at Samford, 3 p.m.
    No. 3 Appalachian St. at No. 8 Wofford, 3 p.m.
    The Citadel at No. 15 Chattanooga, 6 p.m.
    Furman at No. 8 Wofford, 7 p.m.