Southern Conference rivals will meet up with a spot in the FCS quarterfinals on the line when the Furman Paladins travel to take on the Wofford Terriers.
Wofford won the SoCon with a 7-1 conference record and earned a first-round bye, but it could have easily missed the playoffs altogether. The Terriers only won two games by more than one score and consistently seemed to play down to their opponents. This team seemed like it was in third gear all season and could never quite shift into fourth.
Meanwhile, the Paladins started the season 0-3, but they lost by a single point to Wofford and succumbed to Elon on a last-second field goal before getting smashed by NC State. Things looked dim, but Furman turned its season around by thrashing its next seven opponents. The program looked like it might be left out of the postseason after losing to Samford in the season finale, but the FCS Selection Committee put the Paladins in anyway. They made the most of the opportunity by avenging their loss to Elon by beating the Phoenix 28-27 last week.
FCS Second Round Betting Odds
These teams were pretty evenly matched the first time they met. Wofford was able to move the ball effectively with its triple-option attack and dominated time of possession, but Furman hit some big plays in the passing game in order to keep it close.
Furman was trailing by seven with less than a minute to play when it scored to make it 24-23, and it decided to go for the win by going for two. It was a gutsy move, but the Paladins mucked it up by calling for a halfback pass instead of running a normal offense. Unsurprisingly, it was intercepted and the Paladins started the season 0-1 as a result.
The interesting thing to remember about this game is that this was Furman’s first under Clay Hendrix. He returned to his alma mater after spending the last decade at Air Force and installed the Falcons’ unique offense. It calls for some triple-option looks, but it mixes in I-formation sets and you will even see the shotgun, too. The Paladins have a better grip on the offense now and ended the season as the highest-scoring team in the conference.
Matchup to Watch
While Furman uses the triple option some of the time, Wofford uses it almost exclusively. The Terriers have been using this offense for three decades under long-time head coach Mike Ayers but something has been a little off this year.
The Terriers were supposed to roll teams after returning almost all of their offensive starters from last season. However, Wofford is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and while that number is certainly good, it’s not as good as what observers were expecting.
Brandon Goodson has made this offense especially potent. Most option quarterbacks are very limited in the passing game, but Goodson can open it up a little bit. He is averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and has completed 54 percent of his throws on the year.
Furman has a pretty decent run defense, so Goodson may be needed to soften up the linebackers. The Paladins are allowing 3.7 yards per carry this season and did an okay job of shutting down the run against Elon last week.
Wofford’s typically stingy defense has not been as good as expected this season either. The Terriers total defense numbers are good, but they are allowing 4.9 yards per play and are sure to give up some big ones against this Paladins attack.
Of the eight teams that received first-round byes and have home games this week, only Wofford is an underdog. Odds makers have not liked this team all season because of its inability to put foes away and I don’t see this line moving too much considering what happened earlier in the year.
The Terriers don’t have much of a home-field advantage, but I expect them to win another close one here. Getting 3.5 with a team that has had a week to rest and prepare and has the edge in the kicking game is enough for me.
Pick: Wofford +3.5