Here are game-by-game predictions for the Paladins, who are tied at No. 5 in HERO Sports’ FCS Preseason Top 25.
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vs Tennessee Tech
Furman’s only true FCS non-conference opponent this fall is Tennessee Tech, who went 4-7 last year. This should be a decisive win for a team facing its highest expectations in years, so expect a quick start.
at South Carolina
Furman competed decently against No. 4 Clemson last year considering the mismatch on paper, losing 35-12. The Paladins take on the SEC’s South Carolina this fall, who went 8-5 in 2022. Don’t expect a massive blowout, but the Gamecocks will win by a few scores as Furman looks to compete, stay healthy, and collect its $500,000 paycheck.
at Kennesaw State
Kennesaw is still technically an FCS member in 2023, playing as an independent as it transitions to the FBS. KSU will likely have more than 63 scholarships as part of its transition, so maybe this counts as a 0.5 FBS win on the playoff resume.
Furman looks to be the more talented team in 2023 and should get a win if it’s as good as preseason expectations. KSU went 5-6 last year, a disappointing year after being ranked No. 8 in the preseason media poll.
vs No. 19 Mercer
This is a great matchup to kick off SoCon play between two teams with playoff expectations. It’s a solid test for Furman’s secondary, which was a weak spot last year when it ranked No. 115 in FCS passing yards allowed per game. Mercer has two elite wide receivers, Ty James and Devron Harper, coming back.
Furman pulls off a close win on its home turf.
vs The Citadel
The Citadel hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. Regardless, it’s still a team you can’t overlook. Furman will be coming off of a bye week, a good time to have one so it doesn’t sleep on El Cid between ranked opponents.
at No. 8 Samford
Furman’s only FCS loss last regular season was against eventual quarterfinalist Samford, losing 34-27. The game featured a controversial call, resulting in a statement from the SoCon office that said “there were significant errors in the officials’ approach and final ruling.”
In a potential Top 10 showdown, Furman gets its revenge on the road.
at Western Carolina
SoCon gonna SoCon.
After an emotional road win, Furman lays a dud on the road at WCU. The conference is always good for some of these results that aren’t expected. Although it isn’t unreasonable to think WCU can pull some upsets this year.
The Catamounts have gone 4-4 in the league standings the last two seasons with a 6-5 overall record last year. They narrowly lost at Furman, losing 47-40. WCU has had some standout players depart, but it has landed some great transfers this offseason, including South Dakota LB Jakari Starling, Harvard QB Charlie Dean, and Austin Peay LB Antoine Williams.
vs East Tennessee State
Following a loss and with it being Homecoming, Furman gets back on track in dominant fashion. ETSU has been hit hard by the transfer portal again and doesn’t have high preseason expectations.
at Chattanooga (Received Votes)
Speaking of high preseason expectations, Chattanooga has fallen short of these recently. The Mocs could still be a playoff-fringe team, and this being on the road is a tricky matchup for Furman. But a game like this is where the experience of Furman, who returns 18 starters, pays off.
VMI went 0-8 in SoCon play last year. It will be a big rebuilding project for new head coach Danny Rocco.
Wofford’s program decline has been striking, going from three playoff appearances from 2017-2019 to a 1-10 record in 2021 and a 3-8 record last year. Shawn Watson has a lot of work to do in his first year as head coach.
A day before Selection Sunday, don’t expect a Furman slip-up here.
Regular-Season Record Prediction: 9-2
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