Entering Week 11, five undefeated teams make up the top spots in the NCAA DII AFAC Coaches Poll. Two of those juggernauts are from the Gulf South Conference with the West Georgia Wolves at #3 and the Valdosta State Blazers two spots down at #5.
On Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m., the top two teams in the GSC and NCAA DII Super Region 2 will fight to claim another conference championship for their school. The Blazers have not defeated the Wolves since 2016, the last time VSU had home advantage.
The two Georgia teams have fought hard to keep a clean recording heading into the final game of the season, but…
There’s always a but. Especially in West Georgia’s case this season.
The Wolves boast a 10-0 overall record, and earlier in the season took down out of conference foes Catawba 34-3 and Limestone 42-14. After the Blazers beat SAIA rivals Albany State 45-14 in Week 1, the Wolves did the same two games later with the same exact score.
Before conference matchups began, the two GSC giants were taking down opponents by large margins. However, Valdosta State recorded an average of 50 offensive points in just 2 games versus West Georgia’s 40 average points in three games.
Then came Gulf South Conference play.
West Georgia’s first two games of the season started off with a home opener against Florida Tech where they squeezed out a nine point victory.
Next, the Wolves traveled to Shorter University where they soundly defeated the Hawks 58-27.
But how did Valdosta State fair in the first two matches of the season?
The conference opener for the Blazers was a tough road game against the former #8 West Alabama Tigers. After giving up a score early in the game, Rogan Wells and the Valdosta State offense put the pedal to the metal and busted the game open, outscoring the top ten opponent 58-24.
Then the Blazers traveled home to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium and took on Shorter University where they shutout the Hawks 52-0.
So the question is…is West Georgia legit?
The answer is short and easy: No and allow me to explain.
Two weeks later, after running through West Florida and conference newcomers North Greenville, the West Georgia Wolves hosted West Alabama. Valdosta State embarrassed the Tigers on their own turf, but the Wolves we’re hosting a tightly contested matchup in Carrollton, GA.
A neck and neck game saw the Wolves come out on top by only two points. TWO POINTS.
The next two weeks were rough for West Georgia—not in the sense of losing, but in a sense of not performing well.
The Wolves defeated the Choctaws of Mississippi College by 15 and the Statesmen of Delta State by 12, both very tight games until late.
But how does West Georgia compare to Valdosta State across conference matchups? Let me tell you, it’s not even close.
The Blazers have scored an average 52.78 points per game, tearing through opposing defenses and holding offenses to an average of 19.67 points.
Valdosta State, on both sides of the ball, have dominated every team that has come their way. Taking down Delta State by 31, Florida Tech by 30, and Mississippi College by 21.
There is much to debate looking at the NCAA Rankings, but Valdosta State has a tough case for being placed above UWG currently. However that can only be decided after the two undefeated teams face off.
Defeating West Florida 48-21 last week has Valdosta State flying high before hosting their rivals at home for the GSC Championship and a chance at a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament.
The Blazers are looking to break more records and claim a conference title for the first time since 2012, the year they won a National Championship.
Written by Ray Hannah, Staff Writer. Photo by Bethany Davis.
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We did not win conference title in 2012. West Alabama did. Then we embarrassed them in playoffs and won national championship.