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Tough weekend ahead for SoCon teams
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            Georgia Southern isn’t the only team in the Southern Conference opening the season Saturday against a top-tier team.  Two other teams from the SoCon will join GSU in the effort to upset the perennial powerhouses of the BCS this weekend. Chattanooga travels to Oklahoma on Saturday while Appalachian State will take on LSU in Baton Rouge, La.


Chattanooga at Oklahoma

            Chattanooga opened their Southern Conference campaign with a win at Georgia Southern last year, but lost momentum throughout the season and finished seventh among eight conference teams. The Mocs will look to junior running back Erroll Wynn and wideouts Clint Woods and Blue Cooper to provide offensive statistics this seson as they have eight new starters on the defensive side of the ball.

            Chattanooga has never faced off against the Sooners, who are ranked fourth in the FBS preseason polls and boast one of the best running backs in the nation in DaMarco Murray.             He and tight end Jermaine Gresham will lead the offense while the Sooners will look to safety Nic Harris as an offensive leader. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. EST.


Appalachian State at LSU

            Appalachian State will take on No. 7 LSU in Baton Rouge, La. Saturday as well. The game will air live on ESPN at 5 p.m. While many of those tuned in will be watching to find out whether or not last year’s win over Michigan was a fluke, to Appalachian head coach Jerry Moore, the 34-32 win over the Wolverines in 2007 is unrelated to Saturday’s matchup.

            “It’s strange how everything gets compared to Michigan last year,” Moore said via teleconference on Tuesday. “We’re always trying to tune it out and put it behind us.”

            Still, Moore admits that the win over then fifth-ranked Michigan brought more national attention to the team than any of its three national championships. But beating Michigan last year doesn’t make the Mountaineers chances of beating LSU this year any greater.

            “We know we’re a huge underdog,” Moore said. “The chances are even worse than David and Goliath. We don’t have enough loose stones up here. But we’re looking forward to it, and hopefully it will make us a better football team.”

            Both National Champions from their respective subdivisions, LSU defeated Appalachian 24-0 in their last and only meeting in 2005.

            Moore said the key, for Appalachian to have a chance against LSU is keeping mistakes to a minimum and to have a solid kicking game.

            While some those games are viewed by most as one sided, there will be at least one SoCon team playing a matchup that is more likely to be seen in the playoffs: Elon.


Richmond at Elon

            No. 15 (FCS) Elon will host No. 6 (FCS) Richmond at 7 p.m. Saturday. Richmond and Elon haven’t faced each other since 1928 (Richmond shut out Elon, 34-0).

            “This is a big step for us playing, not just a football program of the University of Richmond and how well they’ve done recently, but just for the institution,” Elon coach Pete Lembo said. “Where Elon has come in the last 20-30 years to have a chance to compete with a school of Richmond’s stature on the field is something that everyone at Elon is excited about.”

            Elon needs returning quarterback Scott Riddle to be at the top of his game from Day 1 if the Phoenix hope to beat Richmond. Last season, Riddle passed for 3,817 yards and made 31 touchdown passes on 346-of-508 passing.

            “The key for him is to grow up and mature this year, and hopefully become a more detailed football player, to know where to go with the ball,” Lembo said of Riddle. “His performance is going to be very important to this team’s success.”


            Natalie Sayewich can be reached at (912) 489-9413.