VMI Keydets at #1 Richmond Spiders...yes, VMI is taking on the top FCS team in the country, which completes the Big South Championship Daily Double--only the Big South Conference has teams playing the defending champions in FCS and FBS (this game & CSU's opener at Florida) this year. The Keydets last played a #1 in 2001, when they faced Georgia Southern after the Eagles had won title #6 for GSU. Contrast that rarity with the fact that games against the Spiders are relatively common for VMI: this game marks meeting #86--and the series is tied 40-40-5. Seriously. Can't get closer than that, now can you? The cynics will point out that UR has taken the last seven in the series, but we refuse to get cynical...
And if all THAT isn't enough to get your attention, how about this gem: sensational offense and special teams weapon Tim Maypray sits just 43 yards short of the Big South record for all-purpose yards (he could salt that one away on the opening kickoff, but we'll give him the first quarter to set the mark).
At about the time that game's wrapping up, the Big South can turn its eyes to the North:
#6 JMU Dukes at #24 Liberty Flames...two ranked teams renew their rivalry in the Commonwealth Saturday evening--only the fourth time a ranked Big South team has faced a ranked opponent from outside the Conference. James Madison leads the all-time series 9-5, but LU counters that with a four-game home winning streak (by a score of 133-23). The Flames have a lot at stake--think of it in basketball terms: this game represents a shot at a "quality win" outside the Conference when it comes down to contending for at-large playoff berths (LU has been turned away after winning the Big South the last two years and Coach Rocco want to avoid a similar fate this season). If it comes down to a gamble, the Flames have the hot hand: 4-4 on 4th down this year (one of only 15 FCS schools perfect on 4th this year). Watch out for Mike Brown, recognized by the Conference and national publications for his stellar work at Lafayette--currently second in the Conference in all-purpose yards per game!
Of that trio of games, the NGU-CSU (1:30pm) and NCAT-CCU (7pm) games can be found on the Big South Network.
So what about Gardner-Webb? Idle this week, but thanks for asking.
Meanwhile, as we dash and smash from clash to clash in football, the big story elsewhere is Big South Conference play--this weekend marks the real plunge into League games for both volleyball and men's soccer. Rivalries renewed and games with double meaning, nothing like it--if you have a chance to catch your team in action, get out there and do it, people! As for women's soccer, the ladies are still a week away from getting into Conference play in earnest, so there's not as much activity on the pitch for them right now.
A quick hoops holler for you--ESPN announced the teams for its annual BracketBusters event, and the Big South has four in the field this time: Radford, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, and PC. Match-ups, schedules, and TV selections to be announced at a later date.