No.13 UTC Prepares for No.9 Jax State

Home Opener is Saturdat 6 p.m. at Finley

Monday, September 1, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

“The Jacksonville State defensive front four is as good or better than Central Michigan’s.”

  -- UTC offensive coordinator Jeff Durden.

It’s “Whiteout Saturday” at Finley Stadium as Chattanooga hosts its oldest rival in Jacksonville (Ala.) State in a battle of two top 15 nationally ranked FCS teams.

Both teams – No.9 Jax State and No. 13 Chattanooga – are looking for their first win of the season after losing to a pair of FBS schools on the road. Central Michigan rallied to defeat UTC, 20-16, this past Thursday, while Michigan State defeated the Gamecocks, 45-7.

The No. 13 national mark ties the highest ranking for UTC in the Russ Huesman era (since 2009).  The Mocs were also No. 13 in the Sports Network poll when they lost 14-12 at No. 3 Appalachian State on Sept. 19, 2011. The Gamecocks are the highest ranked non-conference opponent to visit Finley Stadium

“Jacksonville State is a talented football team and one of the best teams we will face all season,” said UTC coach Russ Huesman. “This is a huge test for us as we have our work cut out for us.”

Huesman was 3-0 against them as a player and looks for a win Saturday to even his coaching record (1-2) with the Gamecocks.

UTC defeated Jax State, 38-17, at Finley Stadium in 2011, while losing on the road 21-17 in 2010 and 27-24 in 2012.

The Mocs will need a balanced attack on offense against this big, talented opponent.

 “The Jacksonville defense blitzed more than half the time in their game last Friday and Michigan State had a tough time running the ball,” said UTC offensive coordinator Jeff Durden

“They are impressive on defense and have good speed and are physical.”

Long Time Rival: The UTC-Jacksonville State series dates back to the Mocs first season of collegiate football (1904) as the Blue and Gold defeated Jax State (then called Alabama Normal), 5-0, here in Chattanooga.

UTC leads in the series, 26-11, including a 21-7 advantage at home. Jax State has won six of the last eight meetings, including wins at Finley in 2004-06-08 before losing here in 2010.

The Alabama school is the technically the Mocs oldest current rival by two weeks as Chattanooga beat Jax State Nov. 5 and lost to Tennessee, 37-0, Nov. 19.

Whiteout Saturday: UTC is encouraging the fans to wear all white for the 6 p.m. kickoff.

contact B.B. Branton at

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