UTC solid in all phases while blowing out Mercer
The opportunities are few and far between, but the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will have a chance for a top-10 football win without having to leave the Southern Conference.
The third-ranked Mocs, 4-0 in the league and the only team in the Football Championship Subdivision with a 6-0 record, will face No. 8 The Citadel (5-0, 3-0) Saturday in Charleston, S.C. It will be the first matchup of top-10 teams in the SoCon since seventh-ranked Georgia Southern defeated fourth-ranked Wofford 17-9 on Oct. 13, 2012.
"This is really great for the conference to have that again," UTC offensive lineman Corey Levin said. "It's great to have another top-10 matchup in the SoCon. People are going to be watching; it's going to be an exciting game.
"We've got to get ready to play, because they're really good."
The Bulldogs, who will be hosting the third top-10 matchup in their history (the other two happened in 1992), have averaged 497 rushing yards in their last three games and lead the country with 388.8 yards per contest. As always, they've hung their hat on the triple-option offense, with fullback Tyler Renew, A-aaaaaabacks Reggie Williams and Cam Jackson and quarterback Dominique Allen getting the bulk of the carries. Renew leads the team with 415 yards rushing.
Backup A-back Rod Johnson leads the team with five touchdowns on only 17 carries, with a 12.4-yard average.
The Citadel defense gives up 302 yards per game, third in the SoCon behind the Mocs (225.7) and Wofford (254.5).
"It's the next game, and we have to stay focused on the next game," UTC defensive tackle Justin King said. "We have to do the assignments we're set up to do in the week, and hopefully we go up there and get the win because they're a great team. They have a great coach, great offensive scheme, great defensive scheme. It's a top-10 matchup and we're ready for the challenge.
"I feel we're doing stuff a lot of people didn't think we'd do this year with the loss of Jacob Huesman, a great quarterback. But we have Dro (Bennifield) destroying stuff now, so we've just got to play to our potential, do your job and we'll come out victorious."
With an experienced team, the Mocs have been locked in throughout the practice week to ensure they're prepared for everything opponents have thrown at them. Bennifield said that started with Shorter in the season opener, and it won't change this week with the competition level being ratcheted up for the eighth-ranked Bulldogs.
"You have to be prepared for any team you play, especially top-10 teams because they're the best in the nation," the junior quarterback said. "The Citadel is the next team and we're treating them just like anybody else, exactly the same way."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.