AVOIDING A SNAKE BITE
S.C. State's path to a second consecutive MEAC title could be blocked by a dangerous group of Florida A&M Rattlers. Both teams are undefeated in the conference, and the winner will move into the favorite's role. The Bulldogs have won 13 consecutive conference games dating to 2007, but they are going to have to play a near-perfect game to keep that going. The Bulldogs must find a way to slow a high-powered passing game led by A&M quarterback Curtis Pulley, who has thrown for 990 yards and seven touchdowns. His counterpart for State, Malcolm Long, has thrown for 869 yards and five touchdowns. State coach Buddy Pough is 6-0 against A&M, but his team needed a 44-yard touchdown run by Will Ford to pull out last season's 28-21 victory.
GIVE ME LIBERTY
Expect the Big South to crown a frontrunner with the winner of the game between Coastal Carolina and Liberty. The Chants (3-2, 1-0 Big South) travel to play the Flames (3-2, 0-0) knowing the ramifications of this one. In 2004-06, Coastal defeated Liberty on the way to winning the conference championship. The past two seasons, Liberty defeated CCU to win the league title. Coastal QB Zach MacDowell is coming off a Big South Offensive Player of the Week performance in a victory against VMI, when he threw for 207 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Derrick Frasier claimed the defensive honors with seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Liberty, which owns an 11-game conference winning streak, is led by former South Carolina QB Tommy Beecher, who has passed for 551 yards this season.
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MOUNTAIN ROAD AHEAD
Wofford's 1-4 start is the program's worst since 1992, when it was at the Divison II level. But that team won four in a row after that start, something that's going to be difficult for these Terriers to pull off. With No. 10 Appalachian State (3-2, 2-0 SoCon) in town, Wofford (0-2 SoCon) must find a way to defeat an explosive team that put up 70 points in their meeting last season. The Terriers have to control the game clock with their running game and keep ASU quarterback Armanti Edwards off the field. The Mountaineers, who are led by Edwards' 993 passing yards and 266 rushing yards, are averaging a league-best 32.8 points per game, while the Terriers are giving up a league-worst 32.4 points per game. ASU has won four of the past five meetings.
WHAT BROWN WILL DO
Furman returns from an off-week looking to get on track in its homecoming game against Samford. The Paladins (3-2, 2-1 SoCon) look to push their way back into the conference race after a tough loss to Elon. One piece of good news involves the return of tailback Mike Brown, who has yet to play this season due to an ankle injury. Jerry Williams (249 yards) and Tersoo Uhaa (286 yards) have handled the running game in Brown's absence, but the Paladin offense rides the arm of quarterback Jordan Sorrells, who has thrown for 1,118 yards and six touchdowns. Samford (3-3, 1-2), which is coached by former Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan of Auburn, may have some concern about being Furman's homecoming foe since the Paladins have won 10 consecutive years in this game against six different opponents.
ON THE REBOUND
Just when it seemed Newberry was ready to get back in the South Atlantic Conference race, it lost 34-28 to Mars Hill at home last week. At 3-3 and 1-2 in the SAC, the team travels to Wingate (5-1, 3-0) looking for a way to salvage its hopes of a league title. Newberry has alternated wins and losses, but it is going to take more than a pattern to stop the Bulldogs, who are averaging 34 points per game. Newberry has won the past four meetings in the series, which includes handing Wingate its first loss of the season last year and pulling off an upset of the nationally-ranked Bulldogs in 2007. It will take another strong effort by quarterback Brandon Gantt, who has passed for 1,440 yards and nine scores, to knock off Wingate one more time.
- Neil White