Off to complete opposite starts in conference play, the Chattanooga Mocs (3-3, 2-0 Southern) and East Tennessee State Buccaneers (2-4, 0-3 Southern) meet Thursday night for the newest chapter of “The Rail Rivalry” at Finley Stadium.
The game (7 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but you can watch it live right here on ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that has exclusive coverage of dozens of college football games and other live sports every week, all the 30-for-30 documentaries and additional original content (both video and written) all for $4.99 per month.
You can sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch ETSU vs Chattanooga live on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
East Tennessee State vs Chattanooga Preview
Co-champs of the Southern last year, East Tennessee State has already lost more conference games this season. The Bucs lost to VMI and Furman each by a touchdown, with the former coming in overtime, and they were then gashed for 409 rushing yards in a 35-17 home loss against Wofford two weeks ago.
Still, Randy Sanders still has confidence in his team, and he feels like last week’s bye will help get them back on the right track.
“I always like to continue playing,” he said. “You kind of get in a routine. You get in a groove. After the last couple of weeks, maybe we needed a week off to change our groove.”
He added: “I told the team I still feel like we’re a good football team. Last game against Wofford was probably the worst game we’ve played this year, but it was probably the best team we’ve played this year, Appalachian State notwithstanding.”
Unfortunately for Sanders and ETSU, things don’t get a whole lot easier this week against a Chattanooga squad also coming off a bye.
Prior to the week off, the Mocs put up 589 yards of total offense and 60 points against Western Carolina, then followed that up with an impressive 34-17 road win over Mercer to move to 2-0 in the SoCon. After a murderer’s row stretch that included three straight against Jacksonville State (now No. 14 in FCS rankings), Tennessee and James Madison (No. 2 in FCS), Chattanooga has rebounded nicely.
If the Bucs are going to go on the road and get their first conference win of the season, winning the turnover battle will be important. They are tied for 89th in the country in turnover margin (six takeaways, nine giveaways), while Chattanooga has only given the ball up six times in their five FCS games (they committed five turnovers against Tennessee).
“We have to try to create more turnovers,” Sanders said. “We have to try to do some things. Nobody is helping us a whole lot. That’s one of the biggest differences between last year and this year. Last year, it seemed like teams helped us. This year, nobody’s helping us and we have to go make those plays ourselves.”
This will be the second year the new Rail Rivalry Trophy will be up for grabs. Last year, ETSU captured the trophy with a 17-14 win over the Mocs. In that one, ETSU was out-gained overall but won the turnover battle, 3-1
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