It's their time to shine on the big stage and prove that they can play at that level."
That's Furman coach Bobby Lamb talking about his team's game this week at Missouri, of the Big 12 Conference.
Furman and two other Palmetto State FCS squads will get their moment on the big stage this weekend, as Wofford travels to Wisconsin, of the Big Ten, and Charleston Southern goes back to the state of Florida to play South Florida, of the Big East.
Which of the three teams has the best shot at pulling off an upset? Glad you asked. In order of likelihood:
-- Wofford at Wisconsin -- The last time Wisconsin played a Southern Conference team, the 7th-ranked Badgers were booed off the field at halftime by their own fans, tied with The Citadel at 21-21.
Wisconsin went on to win that 2007 game, 45-31, and Badgers coach Bret Bielema is sure to remind his players that the Terriers are from the same league as the Bulldogs.
The Badgers are 2-0 this season and needed double-overtime for a 34-31 win over Fresno State last Saturday. Wisconsin had more than 40 players suffering from flu-like symptoms last week, with at least six getting IV fluids before the game.
Wisconsin also needed OT to get past FCS squad Cal Poly, 36-35, last season, and a flu-weakened squad could be ripe for a Wofford upset.
Unfortunately, the Terriers have their own problems as their leading rusher, fullback Eric Breitenstein, is out four to six weeks with a knee injury suffered last week against Charleston Southern.
Advice to Wofford -- pack some face masks to wear under your face masks.
--Furman at Missouri -- The Paladins are playing the best football of the state's FCS schools at the moment, at 2-0 with wins over Presbyterian and Chattanooga. Furman quarterback Jordan Sorrells has been sharp, and the Paladins have a nice run-pass balance even without tailback Mike Brown (ankle).
Missouri is 2-0, but this does not seem to be quite the Mizzou team of recent vintage that featured quarterback Chase Daniel and receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The Tigers opened with a 37-9 win over Illinois, but struggled last week in a 27-20 victory over Bowling Green, leaving some Missouri fans uneasy.
That should give Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel plenty of ammo to keep the Tigers focused this week.
"Our football team didn't get better from week one to two, and that's disappointing to me," Pinkel said. "That's my job … I'm going to do my best to get that fixed."
Missouri has averaged a 43-7 score against FCS teams under Pinkel, but Furman has a history of playing the big boys much tougher than that.
"The closer we can get to the fourth quarter with some sort of chance, the pressure goes on Missouri," Lamb said.
--Charleston Southern at South Florida -- CSU coach Jay Mills was encouraged after a 62-3 loss at No. 1 Florida to open the season, but disappointed after last week's 42-14 loss to Wofford.
He might also have issues with whomever scheduled three straight road games at Florida, Wofford and Big East contender South Florida to start the season.
"It's a challenging schedule, probably the most challenging in FCS to start the season," Mills said. "But we felt like it would be beneficial to our program, and we feel that way in hindsight as well."
Comparative scores don't hold out much hope for the 0-2 Bucs against 2-0 South Florida, which beat Wofford 40-7.
The Bulls feature a "Toro Loco" offense that has QB Matt Grothe lined up at receiver, and receiver B.J. Daniels behind center. Grothe's block sprung Daniels for a 7-yard TD run in a 35-13 win over Western Kentucky last week.
And if the Bulls lose to CSU, the Toros really will be Loco.
Reach Jeff Hartsell at email@example.com.
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