Gulf South Week 6 Preview: High-Scoring Powerhouses Collide
Gulf South Week 6 Preview: High-Scoring Powerhouses Collide
Here's what to know about the Gulf South Conference football games in week 6, including Delta State vs. Valdosta State.
There are some weeks during the three-plus months of college football where the schedule feels like a letdown, with a lack of big games on paper.
This is not one of those weeks in the Gulf South.
Two of the league’s highest-scoring teams, both unbeaten overall and within the league, will collide in a huge matchup that could well determine who ends up taking the Gulf South title, and with it an automatic berth into the Division II playoff field.
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No. 8 Delta State (5-0, 3-0) Vs. No. 19 Valdosta State (5-0, 2-0)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Bazemore-Hyder Stadium; Valdosta, Georgia
Last Week: Delta State defeated Shorter, 56-20; Valdosta State defeated Chowan, 51-36
Series History: Valdosta State leads 7-5; Delta State won last season, 70-31
Buckle up because there are going to be points in this one, as the two best offenses in the Gulf South, both in terms of scoring and yardage, meet to see who has a leg up in the GSC title race.
Delta State comes in as the top scoring team in the league, rolling to 45.6 points per game, including a 47 spot last week against West Alabama, while Valdosta State is second in the league at 42.4 points per game and comes in off a 51-point showing against Chowan.
To give you an idea of just how high-powered these offenses have been, the next closest team in the Gulf South is at 35 points per game, and after that, the fourth-best scoring offense is 26.6 points per game.
In yardage, that slight edge goes to Valdosta at 475 yards per game, while Delta State is right on their heels with a mark of 469 yards per game.
But how they’ve gotten those yards is a different story. Valdosta has done it almost all through the air, with quarterback Sammy Edwards averaging nearly 320 yards per game to go with 15 touchdowns on nearly 70 percent passing, all three marks are near the top of the country, and top the Gulf South.
What’s made Edwards and VSU so tough to stop through the air is the depth of skill at the receiver spot. Despite 17 total touchdowns on the year, 10 different receivers have caught a touchdown pass so far, while 11 different players have multiple receptions. As if that wasn't enough, the Blazers Top-5 pass catchers are all averaging over 15 yards per grab. It’s a big-play offense waiting to happen.
Delta State, meanwhile, has done it with a more balanced approach, and through five games have already amassed over 1,000 yards on the ground, with another 1,300 through the air.
Statesmen quarterback Patrick Shegog has done it all for DSU, leading the team in rushing at 324 yards and five touchdowns, one of four players averaging over 30 yards per game for their rushing attack. He's also been ruthlessly efficient through the air, tossing 16 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.
It’s a quarterback matchup between the two leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year in the GSC, and two players who are making strong cases for the Harlan Hill Award as well.
Lest you think this game is only about offense, both defenses are also among the Top-3 in the league in scoring and yards allowed.
Delta State is tied for the league-lead in fewest points allowed, giving up just 16.4 points per game in its 5-0 start, while Valdosta has been close by at 18 points per game, a more than 17-points-per-game improvement over where the Blazers were last year when the defense let them down in a 5-6 season.
In terms of yardage, the two teams are nearly identically, separated by just three yards per game. Valdosta has had the better running defense so far, yielding just 517 yards thus far, while DSU boasts the better pass defense, holding opponents to under 200 yards per game despite leading by big margins almost every week.
Those defenses, and their ability to get stops or force turnovers should be the key to determining a winner Saturday.
One big storyline to watch in this one is Valdosta State being out for revenge. The Statesmen absolutely steamrolled the Blazers last season, putting up 70 points and over 700 yards of offense in a 39-point romp.
It’s early, but this has all the makings of a Gulf South classic, and one that could have huge implications both in the GCS title fight, and postseason seeding and location.
Gulf South Games at a Glance
*All games are scheduled for Saturday
North Greenville (3-2, 1-2) Vs. Chowan (0-5, 0-3)
After roaring out to a 3-0 start, North Greenville is on the rebound, having dropped back-to-back games, albeit against powers West Florida and Valdosta State. After their defense had held up well through four games, the Crusaders gave up 48 to the high-powered West Florida offense. If there was any solace to take from the loss, it’s that the NGU offense found it’s stride after halftime, scoring 21 second-half points and pulling within three points in the fourth quarter before West Florida closed with three straight touchdowns.
Chowan put up a fight a week ago against Valdosta State, but the Blazer offense proved to be too much to handle. Like NGU, the good news for Chowan was they had their best offensive showing of the season by far, scoring 36 points in the loss, and even taking a 29-24 lead in the second quarter before the Blazers outscored them 20-7 in the second half.
Shorter (2-3, 1-2) Vs. West Florida (4-1, 2-0)
Shorter comes in looking to snap a two-game skid after getting shut down by Mississippi College last week in a 30-14 loss. The Hawks put up nearly 400 yards of offense in the defeat, but struggled on third and fourth downs, going just 6 of 17 in key moments, contributing to only 14 points despite no turnovers.
West Florida continued its roll by going on the road to knock off North Greenville by a 48-24 score, having to sweat off a comeback charge from the Crusaders, who rallied to get within three before Peewee Jarrett and John Jiles put the game away with two long touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
West Alabama (2-3, 1-2) Vs. West Georgia (2-2, 1-1)
Another Battle of the Wests sees West Alabama head east to take on a well-rested West Georgia team.
West Alabama were handled at home last week by Delta State, seeing DSU put up the first 37 points of the game, including falling behind 21-0 after one quarter. A pair of turnovers hurt UWA who were held to just 260 yards in the loss. The UWA defense did a solid job despite giving up 47 points, holding Delta State to just 334 yards in the game.
West Georgia comes in off a bye last week, but were dropped last time out by West Florida. So far, the Wolves have been hurt by their defense, which ranks in the bottom third of the league and gives up nearly 31 points per game.
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