Rob Weiss, FCS Update
All eyes in the MEAC will focus on Orangeburg, SC this weekend as the Florida A&M Rattlers face the South Carolina State Bulldogs
Both teams take the field Saturday with an overall record of 4-1, and a MEAC record of 2-0. Florida A&M’s lone loss came to in-state FBS rival Miami, and SC State also fell to an in-state rival when the faced South Carolina.
Florida A&M comes in with national sensation, LeRoy Vann, who has been featured on ESPN because of his explosiveness in the Rattlers return game. When asked about Vann and the problems he presented, S.C. State head coach, Buddy Pough said that they would not kick the ball out of bounds to avoid Vann touching the ball. The special teams battle could easily win this game.
The Bulldogs of South Carolina State are coming off of a 2008 playoff appearance in which they came close to upsetting FCS powerhouse, Appalachian State. They are lead by Senior RB Will Ford, who leads the team with 383 yards rushing. Ford is on the Payton Award watch list after rushing for 1,499 yards last year. Their marquee win at this point in the season came against Grambling State in week one. The game ended with a final score of 34-31, but the game was never really that close. The Bulldogs struggled at times, had conditioning issues, and just were not playing to their potential. If this game were played again I would expect the Bulldogs to win by 10+.
This game could very well decide the MEAC championship which would guarantee a spot in the 2009 FCS playoffs. While the loser could still learn an at-large bid, no one wants to leave it to chance.
Coach Pough feels like both teams have a strong resume for the playoffs. While the winner clearly has the better path, Pough feels both teams belong in at this point in the season. When asked about their non-conference schedule, Couch Pough said that he felt like they played on of the toughest non-conference slates in FCS football. This schedule included a neutral site game against Grambling State, FBS South Carolina, and Winston Salem State.
I contacted Florida A&M or this article, but was unable to get a response. Current issues in their athletic department may have caused communication issues. If we can get a comment from Coach Taylor, then the story will be updated.
South Carolina State 24 Florida A&M 14