Sep 6, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina plays its second-straight Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to open the 2013 season - and the third-consecutive dating back to last season - when it travels to Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., this Saturday (Sept. 7) afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 pm.
Saturday afternoon's game will be broadcast on ESPN3 with John Sadak (play-by-play), John Bunting (color analyst) and Cat Whitehill (sideline) on the call.
Fans can also follow the Catamount Sports Network broadcast with an air time of 12:30 pm across 11 stations and online at CatamountSports.com. Listen to the game locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; 1150 AM WAVO in Charlotte/Rock Hill, S.C.; 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County; on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville/Canton; 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville; and on CSN's newest affiliates, Country Legends 550 and 92.9 in Statesville.
Saturday marks the first-ever meeting on the football gridiron between the Catamounts and Hokies - two of the nation's most unique mascot names. Virginia Tech marks the fourth Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent for the Catamounts since 2008: WCU fell at Florida State in 2008, 69-0; lost at North Carolina State in 2010, 48-7; and lost at Georgia Tech in the 2011 season-opener.
WCU hopes to continue the opening weekend trend of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams pulling off upsets over their FBS brethren. Eight FCS teams including Samford from the Southern Conference defeated FBS teams a week ago.
"There are a lot of great FCS programs and it's becoming more and more frequent - and there were also some other seven-point ball games last week," said WCU second-year head coach Mark Speir about the upset wins a week ago during the SoCon's weekly teleconference. "I think there's still a difference when you start talking about SEC and some of your ACC schools, but there is a lot of great football in the FCS. Any Saturday - that's why you play these games."
Western Carolina is expected to start redshirt junior Eddie Sullivan at quarterback in Blacksburg. Sophomore QB Troy Mitchell, who left the season-opener at Middle Tennessee after being knocked to the ground after an incomplete pass late in third quarter, is traveling with his status for Saturday's game a game-day decision, according to the coaching staff.
Sophomore running back Darius Ramsey is expected to miss this week's game, as well as,when WCU opens its SoCon slate next Saturday in Cullowhee against The Citadel - which hosts Wofford in their conference opener this weekend. Ramsey did run on his injured foot with a variety of tape jobs by the WCU Sports Medicine staff on Thursday afternoon. Freshman Garry Lewis, junior David Giron and converted defensive back Brandon Grady are expected to split the reps in the backfield.
On defense, WCU expects to have its full complement of players including returning redshirt senior Andre Shishkin along the defensive line. Sophomore Sertonuse Harris and redshirt junior Ace Clark in the secondary are expected to play.
Kickoff on Saturday afternoon is scheduled for 1:30 pm.
CATAMOUNT QUICK SLANTS:
Western Carolina opens the 2013 season with its second of back-to-back games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams - and the second of THREE this season - when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to face Virginia Tech in the first meeting between the two schools ... the three FBS teams scheduled MATCHES the MOST ever scheduled by WCU in a single season since going NCAA D-I (1976) - played at South Carolina (L, 45-24), at Auburn (L, 55-6) and at NC State (31-18) in 1986;
Dating back to the end of 2012, Virginia Tech represents the THIRD FBS team the Catamounts have played in a row ... WCU ended 2012 at #4 Alabama before opening 2013 at Middle Tennessee last Thursday night;
WCU scored 24 points against FBS-foes Marshall (2012) and Middle Tennessee (2013) ... It marks the most points by a Catamount football team against a FBS team since scoring 26 against Georgia Tech in a road loss back in 1994 (18 years) ... Since going NCAA Division I in 1976, WCU has scored 20-or-more points against a FBS team just six times;
Both of Western Carolina's quarterbacks - redshirt junior Eddie Sullivan and sophomore Troy Mitchell - surpassed the 1,000 yard career passing mark in the season-opener at Middle Tennessee State ... Sullivan, who threw for 979 yards a season ago, tallied 96 yards to stand with 1,075 yards on his career while Mitchell entered the opener with 862 yards before throwing for 161 against Middle Tennessee - his fifth, 100-yard passing game and his fourth-best total - to enter Saturday's game with 1,023 yards passing;
Western Carolina played 20, first-year players including 13 true freshmen and seven redshirt freshmen in the Thursday night season opener at Middle Tennessee ... Three true freshmen were among the starting lineup including one on offense (Terryon Robinson) and two on defense (Bryson Jordan, Trey Morgan);
Junior WR Karnorris Benson recorded the first career 100-yard receiving game of his WCU career, tallying a career-best 113 yards on four catches with a touchdown ... It was WCU's first 100-yard receiver in four games dating back to the Elon game on Oct. 20, 2012 and only the fourth player in the past three seasons to eclipse the 100 yard mark;
EIGHT Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams scored wins over Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) last weekend across the country including SoCon-member, Samford;
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. VIRGINIA TECH - THE SERIES:
The Catamounts and Hokies have never met on the football gridiron prior to Saturday afternoon's tilt ... the two schools have met three times on the men's basketball hardwood dating back to 1993 with Virginia Tech holding a 3-0 series edge ... the two have also played 16 times on the baseball diamond with WCU trailing 5-10-1 with the most recent meeting coming in 2002 ... WCU is also 2-5 vs. Virginia Tech in volleyball and 0-1 in women's soccer.
WESTERN CAROLINA ALL-TIME VS. MEMBERS OF THE ACC:
Western Carolina is 0-27 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (see page 8 for more) ... Most recently, WCU played at Georgia Tech in 2011, falling 63-21 to the Yellow Jackets;
Up until Georgia Tech's 70-0 win over fellow Southern Conference foe, Elon last weekend, Florida State's 69-point margin of victory over WCU in 2008 represented the largest winning margin by an ACC team all-time;
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE ACC: Boston College 0-1; Clemson 0-5; Duke 0-3; Florida State 0-3; Georgia Tech 0-5; Maryland 0-1; North Carolina State 0-6; Wake Forest 0-3.
THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE-ACC CONNECTION:
Founded in 1921, the Southern Conference - the fifth oldest in the nation - gave rise to two of the premier conferences in America - the Southeastern (SEC, founded in 1932) and the Atlantic Coast (ACC, founded in 1952);
Nine of the current 14 SEC teams (minus Boston College, Florida State, Miami, Pittsburgh and Syracuse) played under the SoCon banner ... SEVEN of those nine ACC schools were founding members in 1921 - (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech - with Duke joining in 1928 and Wake Forest in 1936;
Current ACC teams combined to win 17 SoCon Championships from 1933 until 1963 with Duke winning 10 ... Maryland, Clemson and North Carolina each won two apiece ... Virginia Tech won a SoCon title in 1963 before leaving the league two years later in 1965;
From 1921 through 1965, Virginia Tech posted a combined record of 108-112-22 (.492)as a member of the Southern Conference ... the 108 wins ranks eighth in SoCon history ... the Hokies played in the Sun Bowl in 1947 against Cincinnati (L, 18-6) as a SoCon affiliate.