Cullowhee, N.C. - Nationally-ranked conference foes square-off Saturday afternoon at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg with first place in the Southern Conference on the line. Ranked 22nd in the STATS FCS media poll, Western Carolina takes its four-game win streak on the road to face the fifth-ranked Wofford Terriers with kickoff at 1:30 pm.
Catamount Sports Network coverage begins at 12:30 pm with the Pepsi Tailgate Show as the "Voice of the Catamounts," Gary Ayers will be joined by Daniel Hooker, Jeff Bryson, and Greg McLamb on the call. Fans can listen to the CSN broadcast locally on WWCU-FM Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 104.9 FM & 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; WISE Sports Radio 1310 / 970 AM and 97.3 FM in Asheville/Canton; and with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com.
Saturday's game will also be broadcast via ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Mark Hauser calling the play-by-play and Thom Henson on color commentary of the Wofford production.
The final two undefeated teams in SoCon play meet with first-place in the league and a leg-up in the conference race on the line. WCU (4-1, 2-0 SoCon) has league wins over Samford (38-34) at home and a resounding victory at Chattanooga last Saturday, 45-7. Wofford -- one of the final nine remaining unbeaten FCS teams at 4-0 overall -- has a pair of one-point wins over rival Furman (24-23) at home and at Mercer (28-27) to stand at 2-0.
Saturday's match-up pits two of the top three rushing offenses in the SoCon against one another as Western Carolina and Wofford rank second and third, respectively, on the ground this season. WCU averages 281.2 rushing yards per game -- seventh in the NCAA FCS -- while Wofford is averaging 272.2 yards on the ground, the 11th-best in the nation.
Wofford counters with the second-best rush defense in the league, limiting foes to 121.8 rushing yards per game -- a mark which ranks them 39th nationally. The Catamount offense has been balanced and well-rounded this season, though, ranking fourth nationally in total offense with an average of 535.4 yards per game that includes 254.2 yards passing (31st in FCS). WCU ranks tied for sixth nationally in scoring offense at with 41.2 points per game to date.
Individually, six of the top 10 rushers in the SoCon will be on the field Saturday. WCU senior Detrez Newsome leads the SoCon -- and ranks third nationally -- with an average of 139.2 rushing yards per game, while redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyrie Adams (2nd, 67.8) & Corey Holloway (5th, 63.0) are also inside the top five. Wofford counters with Blake Morgan, third in the SoCon at 65.5 yards per game, while Lennox McAfee (4th, 64.2) and Andre Stoddard (10th, 56.2) are also among the top 10.
WCU has won two of the last three series meetings including the most recent at Gibbs Stadium back in 2015. However, including an eight-game winning streak from 2006-2013, the Terriers have wins in nine of the last 11 in series history.
ADDITIONAL STORYLINES IN SATURDAY'S MEETING WITH WOFFORD:
CATAMOUNTS LOOK TO HALT ANOTHER SLIDE: For a fourth-consecutive week, the Western Carolina football team will look to put the clamps on another sizeable slide ... the Catamounts will try to halt a 43-game winless drought in ROAD games against nationally-ranked FCS opponents ... WCU already halted the 27-game losing skid against nationally-ranked NCAA FCS opponents with the 38-24 upset of No. 17 Samford, WCU's first over a FCS ranked team since 2006 ... the Catamounts also halted an eight-game skid in the series against Chattanooga by scoring its first win at Finley Stadium since 2005 ... WCU ended a seven-game road winless streak that spanned the entire 2016 season with the victory at Gardner-Webb (Sept. 16);
YET ANOTHER STREAK TO BUST: With WCU among the national rankings for the first time since 2006, the Catamounts look to halt a SIX-GAME drought AS a ranked team ... WCU's last win while ranked in the FCS polls came back in Oct., 1994, a 33-7 road win at VMI.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. WOFFORD -- SERIES HISTORY:
Western Carolina trails Wofford in the all-time series, 14-24, but has wins in two of the last three series meetings ... Despite that, Wofford has won nine of the last 11 series meetings ... WCU trails in games played in Spartanburg, 4-14, but won the most recent meeting at Gibbs Stadium in 2015 (24-17);
WCU is looking for back-to-back road victories in the series with the Terriers ... the Catamounts have not won consecutive road meetings over Wofford since victories in 1978 and 1981;
WCU handed Wofford its FIRST shutout loss against a Southern Conference team with the 24-0 blanking in Cullowhee back in 2005 ... Wofford has only been shutout TWICE as a member of the SoCon dating back to 1997 -- Gardner-Webb scored a 3-0 shutout win over Wofford in October of 2013.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. NATIONALLY-RANKED FCS TEAMS:
Since 1983, WCU is just 12-78-3 all-time against nationally-ranked, NCAA FCS teams ... the Catamounts snapped their 27-game winless drought vs. nationally-ranked teams with the 38-34 home win over then No. 17 Samford, its first over a ranked team since 2006;
Nine of Western Carolina's 12 wins have come at home as WCU is just 3-43-2 all-time on the road against nationally-ranked FCS teams ... Two of those three road wins came in 1983 ... WCU has dropped 43-straight road games vs. nationally-ranked foes ... WCU is 9-34-0 against ranked teams at home, snapping a 14-game slide earlier this season.
CATAMOUNTS BREAK INTO FCS NATIONAL POLLS:
Riding a four-game winning streak that includes league victories over nationally-ranked Samford and a road win at Chattanooga, which ranked as high as 12th early in the season, Western Carolina football broke into the STATS FCS Poll this week, debuting at No. 22 ... the Catamounts spent four-consecutive weeks in the "others receiving votes" category before entering this week's national rankings;
In the other major poll, WCU is the first team in the "others receiving votes" category in the FCS Coaches' Poll, weighing in at 26th in the nation ... WCU received a total of 26 votes, just four behind No. 25 Nicholls which was one of three teams receiving votes a week ago to enter this week's tabulations:
Western Carolina is ranked for the first time since 2006 when the squad also cracked the top 25 at No. 22 in the media poll following a home upset-victory over then No. 19 Eastern Kentucky in Cullowhee ... That win that season also pushed the Catamounts into the coaches' poll at No. 23.
MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
WCU is off to its best start to a season through its first five games (4-1) since 1974 ... WCU opened the 1974 season with a loss before winning nine-straight en route to a NCAA Division II playoff berth, finishing the year (9-2 finish);
WCU opened Southern Conference play at 2-0 for the first-time since 2014 when the team won its first four league games, finishing the year at 5-2;
WCU has won back-to-back road games for the first time since the 2010 season (W at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel) ... This season, WCU's consecutive road victories have come at Gardner-Webb and Chattanooga;
The Catamounts have won four-straight games on the season -- and have three consecutive home wins dating back to the home finale last fall.