Last season's football game between The Citadel and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was a battle of top-10 teams.
This season? It's ... not.
The Citadel, the Southern Conference's 2016 lone champion and 2015 co-champion with UTC, is on a three-game losing streak, its first such slide against Football Championship Subdivision competition since a seven-loss streak in 2010. UTC's Mocs also are in a three-game skid and are 1-6 for the season.
They host The Citdadel (3-3) this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Finley Stadium.
The focus for the Bulldogs after a last-minute, 20-16 loss to fifth-ranked Wofford now is doing what's necessary to get a win this week against UTC and put themselves in position to qualify for the FCS playoffs for a third consecutive year.
"We're not focused on the future, just this game right now," junior linebacker Quinlan Washington told reporters Tuesday. "It's definitely a lot of adversity right now, but I'm excited to see how we bounce back this week."facebook
Coach Brent Thompson told reporters that the team is just working to improve and give itself a chance, and he pointed out that a number of 7-4 teams made the 2016 playoffs. The Bulldogs would have to finish 4-1 to get to that mark.
"The goal is still out there," Thompson said. "We're still motivated by that, still driven by that. We really just want to continue to compete — that's all that matters, taking it one game at a time."
The question after the exits of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to the Football Bowl Subdivision level — as well as Elon to the Colonial Athletic Association — was who was going to ascend to the level of king of the Southern Conference.
The answer is still unknown.
UTC and The Citadel have been those programs in the past three seasons, with the Mocs advancing to three consecutive FCS playoff appearances while the Bulldogs have been in the last two, but both are in the midst of struggling campaigns.
Wofford, whicih last won a share of the championship in 2012, has been the top team in the league since the preseason and currently is 6-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country. Samford is 4-2 and ranked 14th, and seven SoCon teams have at least three wins this season and five have at least four.
Virginia Military Institute is the only league team without a win in 2017.
Players of the week
Wofford's Brandon Goodson, Western Carolina's John Brannon III and Furman's Jon Croft Hollingsworth were named SoCon players of the week.
Goodson, the Terriers' quarterback, threw for a career-high 219 yards and a touchdown in the 20-16 win over The Citadel, becoming the first Wofford quarterback to throw for 200 yards in a game since 1994. Brannon had a pair of interceptions in the 19th-ranked Catamounts' 49-10 win over East Tennessee State, while Hollingsworth averaged 42 yards on four punts and had five touchbacks in his team's 42-10 win over VMI.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.