While the other seven teams in the conference are still mathematically alive for the championship, ETSU and Western Carolina are simply battling to stay out of last place.
The Bucs come into the game winless in the SoCon. They’re 2-7 overall, 0-6 in the league. Western Carolina is just a game better in conference play at 1-5. The Catamounts are also 2-7 overall.
Kickoff in Cullowhee, North Carolina, is set for 3:30 p.m.
The Bucs are coming off a heartbreaking 31-27 loss to The Citadel. They’ve lost five games in a row, four of them by seven points or fewer.
Quay Holmes continues to star for ETSU. The sophomore running back had 120 rushing yards last week and leads the SoCon in all-purpose yards.
If ETSU is to have any success Saturday, it will have to deal with Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams, one of the most dynamic players in the SoCon.
Adams is fourth in the conference in total yards at 218 per game. He hasn’t run as much as in the past — just 311 yards in seven games — but is still one of the most dangerous players in the league.
“He’s a good football player,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “They’ve done a nice job of trying to utilize his abilities. Last week he didn’t run for that many yards, although he’s always a threat with his legs. He had a really nice game throwing and threw for a lot of yards.”
Western Carolina is coming off a 43-35 victory over VMI, and Adams’ 42-yard touchdown pass to Daquan Patten sealed the win. He went 14 of 22 for 322 yards and three touchdowns.
“Adams obviously gets a lot of attention and deservedly so, but he’s got some pretty good weapons around him to help him out,” Sanders said.
Bucs strong safety Artevius Smith was named to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list this week. The award goes to the top defensive player in the FCS.
Smith leads the SoCon with four interceptions and is tops on ETSU with 66 tackles.
Smith was one of 16 players added to the list during the season. He’s the third ETSU player on the list, joining defensive end Nasir Player and safety Tyree Robinson, who were added during the preseason.
This will be the 49th meeting between the two schools and Western Carolina holds a 24-23-1 lead in the series. Included in that total is ETSU’s 45-43 triple-overtime win last season.
The series has been known as the Blue Ridge Border Battle since last year.