Written by Gabe Burns, Asst. Sports Editor
For the Valdosta State Blazers, Saturday’s Gulf South Conference matchup with Mississippi College is close to a must-win.
The teams are each 0-2 in conference play, and both the Choctaws and Blazers share a loss to North Alabama. VSU is coming off a 49-28 road loss to West Georgia, whereas Mississippi College was defeated 42-23 by Shorter.
History is on the Blazers’ side between the two GSC foes. Last season the Blazers traveled to Mississippi and won 62-0 in their first clash since the Choctaws returned to the conference. The school was a GSC-member from 1972-1996, and after a lengthy process, rejoined before last season.
The Choctaws return to D-II was anything but triumphant. The team went 1-9 in 2014, losing all seven of its conference games by double digits. MC has already surpassed that win total with their current 2-3 record, but still has not collected a conference victory.
The Blazers (3-2, 0-2) are in need of a conference win and ending their losing skid at two games. The Choctaws could be just what the doctor ordered.
Mississippi College is coming off a bye, but through the first five games, has not been able to slow the opponents’ offenses in conference play. The Choctaws gave up 34 points to North Alabama, and in their most recent game, surrendered 42 to Shorter, a team that has been below-average offensively all season (scoring an average of 15 points in its other four contests).
Offensively, MC loves to run the football. In their loss to Shorter, they had 54 attempts for 203 yards. VSU’s defense has had a tough going in the last two games, but should not have a difficult time locking down Mississippi College’s rushing attack.
In each of MC’s loses, the team fell behind quickly and failed to respond. The Blazers must get off to a fast start and force the Choctaws to press. If VSU gets going early, they could bury Mississippi College’s playoff chances, save their own, and gather their first conference win of the season.