Furman is coming off one of its biggest victories ever -- a 28-3 victory over North Carolina -- and it remains the only unbeaten school in the Southern Conference. But the Paladins face a difficult task on Saturday.
Furman's latest test will come at Statesboro where they must face perennial powerhouse Georgia Southern, which has a 19-game winning streak at home.
The Division I-AA schools are both highly ranked. Georgia Southern (7-2, 6-1) is fourth in the nation. Furman (7-1, 5-0) is No. 7.
In addition, the conference title -- which the Eagles have won the last two seasons -- is at stake.
Georgia Southern can clinch at least a three-way tie for the title with a win in its final conference game. If Furman wins, it could claim the league championship outright by winning its final two league games with Wofford and Chattanooga. Appalachian State (6-2, 5-1), which beat Georgia Southern earlier 17-16, also can gain a share of the championship by winning its final two conference games.
Georgia Southern beat Furman last season 45-17 and leads the series between the two schools 7-2, but Furman is on a roll, having won seven in a row after losing its season opener 24-22 to Elon.
In other games, Arkansas Tech is at West Georgia and Valdosta State is at North Alabama in Division II Gulf South Conference play. In Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games, Albany State is at Livingtone College, Kentucky State is at Morris Brown, Fort Valley State is at Benedict College, Clark Atlanta is at Morehouse College and Miles College is at Savannah State.
Sophomore running back Louis Ivory and senior receiver Des Kitchings are Furman's big-play makers.
Ivory is the second leading rusher in the conference, averaging 131.4 yards a game, second only to Georgia Southern's fullback Adrian Peterson's 155.9 yards. Kitchings is averaging 16.1 yards per catch on 28 receptions.
"Furman probably has the best offensive line in the conference and a great receiver in Kitchings," said Georgia Southern coach Paul Johnson. "It's a team that's not going to beat itself by making a lot of mistakes."
The Eagles, on the other hand, lead the nation in several categories: total offense (555.8 yards), rushing offense (419.1 yards) and scoring (50.9 points).
Peterson has rushed for 1,442 yards and 24 touchdowns and quarterback Greg Hill has added 793 yards and 12 TDs on the ground and passed for another 1,032 yards and 8 TDs.
"Offensively, they have so many weapons, an answer for just about everything you do," said Furman coach Bobby Johnson. "They've got a great fullback and a great quarterback."
West Georgia (7-2, 6-1) is in a must-win situation for a playoff spot against Arkansas State (7-2, 6-1) and to remain tied for the conference lead.
Valdosta State's coach Mike Kelly was replaced after last week's 35-31 loss to Arkansas-Monticello by interim coach Mark Nelson. "Our approach is we're undefeated," said Nelson of the Blazers (4-5, 3-4). "We have two games left against our biggest rivals (North Alabama (3-6, 3-4) and West Georgia."
Albany State (5-3, 3-2) fell out of the race for the SIAC title with last week's 7-3 loss to Morris Brown.
Morris Brown (5-4) got 16 tackles, 13 solos, from linebacker Corry Williams in the upset win over Albany State.
Fort Valley State (9-0, 5-0), hoping to host a Division I-AA playoff game, probably needs a win over Benedict (5-3) to do so.
Clark Atlanta (2-7, 0-5) will be playing its last game of the season and final game under interim coach Crockett, who has a 2-3 record since taking over for Elmer Mixon. Crockett, however, has applied for the job and hopes to be named permanent coach.
Savannah State (4-5) has two games remaining in their final season in the SIAC and are hoping to get to .500 on Saturday against Miles, a team they beat 24-6 last season.
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