Saturday, Aug. 26
Chattanooga vs. Jacksonville State (ESPN), 6:30 p.m. EST
(Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff; Montgomery, Ala.)
• The 2017 season marks the SoCon’s 96th year of football.
• For the first time in its history, Wofford was the preseason choice to win the Southern Conference title, by both the league’s coaches and media. The Terriers’ previous best predicted finish was second, where they were picked by both organizations in 2004, by just the coaches in 2009 and by just the media in 2012 and 2013.
• Chattanooga led the league with 10 preseason all-conference picks.
• The Citadel enters the season seeking its third straight SoCon crown. The 2015 and 2016 titles marked the first time the Bulldogs had won the SoCon in consecutive years.
• The SoCon is the only conference in college football that will take on both the reigning FCS and FBS national champions this season. ETSU will square off against defending FCS champion James Madison on Sept. 9, while The Citadel will face Clemson on Nov. 18.
• Four league teams are nationally ranked in the preseason, with Wofford leading the way at No. 11 in both the FCS Coaches Poll and the STATS FCS Top 25. The Citadel is 12th in the coaches’ poll and 16th in the STATS rankings, while Chattanooga is 13th/12th and Samford is 19th in both polls. Mercer received votes in both polls, while ETSU earned votes in the STATS rankings.
• Samford redshirt junior quarterback Devlin Hodges and Western Carolina senior all-purpose running back Detrez Newsome were among the 22 players listed on the preseason watch list for the 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award for the outstanding offensive player of the year, while The Citadel’s senior safety Kalik Williams has been named to the preseason watch list for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the outstanding defensive player of the year.
• Two league coaches will make their team debuts this season. Tom Arth came to Chattanooga after an outstanding four-year run at his alma mater, John Carroll, in which he went 40-8 and was named the 2016 NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year. Furman’s Clay Hendrix returns to his alma mater and assumes his first head coaching job after a 10-year tenure at Air Force following a 19-year stay as an assistant for the Paladins.
• A SoCon team has ranked either first or second nationally in rushing in 16 of the last 17 seasons. The Citadel led FCS with 348.2 yards per game on the ground last year.