College Football around Alabama: Championship Saturday
The most consequential weekend of the college football season has arrived with championship and playoff implications at stake for numerous teams around the Yellowhammer State.
Auburn and Troy will be playing for an opportunity to win a conference championship while Jacksonville State and West Alabama.
Rematch in Atlanta
Three weeks after Auburn’s 40-17 demolition of the Georgia Bulldogs, Auburn and Georgia will square off for a second time this season inside Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium.
With Auburn and Georgia ranked No. 2 and 6 respectively in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, the winner of Saturday’s game will more than likely punch their ticket into the playoff.
One of the biggest reasons Auburn pulled away from Georgia in their first game was the big play. The sophomore signal caller completed four passes of 30+ yards with three of those completions going for touchdowns.
A rematch in the SEC Championship Game has been common for the Tigers as they will play in their sixth conference title game and their fourth involving a rematch against an opponent they previously faced in the regular season.
In series history, Georgia leads Auburn 57-56-8 including 11 of the previous 16 meetings.
Sun Belt Title at Stake for Troy
The Troy Trojans travel to Arkansas State for their final road game of the season and an opportunity to win the Sun Belt Conference Title.
Troy, Arkansas State and Appalachian State are tied for first in the Sun Belt with a 6-1 conference record. With nine wins, the Trojans are also looking to notch their second consecutive 10-win season.
In recent years, Arkansas State has dominated Troy winning the last four games in the series including a 35-3 trouncing of the Trojans last season.
The feature matchup in Saturday’s game is Troy’s defense against Arkansas State’s offense. The Trojans lead the conference in scoring defense (16.8), total defense (315.9), rushing defense (109.8) and pass defense (206.1) while Arkansas State is the conference leader in scoring offense (39.9) and total offense (487.6).
Individually, Troy running back Jordan Chunn is third in rushing with 741 yards and leads the conference with 10 rushing touchdowns. On the opposite sideline, Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen is second in the league with 3,193 passing yards and has a conference leading 32 touchdown passes.
Kickoff from Jonesboro, Arkansas, is at 6:30 PM on ESPN2.
UWA Hosts Division II Quarterfinals
Coming off comeback win over Delta State in the second round of the Division II Playoffs, West Alabama hosts West Florida in the Division II Quarterfinals.
The two Gulf South Conference opponents met earlier in the season with UWA taking down West Florida 35-18.
Saturday’s matchup features one of Division II’s best home teams in UWA who is 6-0 at home while UWF has one of the best road records in Division II with a 6-1 record away from home.
In their win over Delta State, the Tigers reached the 10-win mark for the third time in program history the first time since 1975.
A big part of their success this season has been the play of junior quarterback Harry Satterwhite. The Mobile native leads the Gulf South Conference in passing yards (3,196), completion percentage (.660) passing yards per game (266.3) and QB efficiency (138.3).
Satterwhite’s favorite target this season has been wide receiver Donta Armstrong. The senior from Bruce, Mississippi, leads the GSC in receptions (71), receiving yards (877), receiving yards per game (73.1) and receptions per game (5.9).
In just their second season as a program, UWF has achieved their first playoff appearance in school history and has an opportunity to win their 10th game of the season.
The Argonauts shutout Wingate 31-0 in their first playoff game two weeks ago while edging West Georgia 17-14 last week.
Saturday’s kickoff from Livingston is at Noon.
JSU Opens FCS Playoffs
Over in east Alabama, Jacksonville State kicks off another FCS postseason appearance Saturday from Burgess-Snow Field on the campus of JSU.
The Gamecocks will be making their fifth consecutive appearance in the playoffs and are putting a nine-game winning streak on the line.
Defense has been the calling card for JSU during the winning streak as opponents have scored 12.6 points per game over the last nine games.
Defense has also been one of the strengths for Kennesaw State this season. The Owls lead the Big South Conference allowing just 14.7 points per game.
Individually, Saturday’s game will feature two of the top defenders in the country in JSU defensive end Darius Jackson and Kennesaw State linebacker Bryson Armstrong.
Jackson leads the OVC with 19 tackles for loss while Armstrong paces the Big South with 10 sacks.
Kickoff Saturday is at 1 PM.
No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 6 Georgia 3 PM (SEC Championship Game: Atlanta, GA)
West Alabama vs. West Florida Noon (NCAA Division II Quarterfinals)
Jacksonville State vs. Kennesaw State 1 PM (FCS Playoffs: 2nd Round)
New Mexico State vs. South Alabama 3:30 PM
Arkansas State vs. Troy 6:30 PM ESPN2