Click here to view live blog of Saturday’s game.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The No. 17 ETSU Buccaneers are one game away from being outright Southern Conference champions and earning an automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
But that’s only if they beat Samford this Saturday.
The Bucs have already made history. Their 21-18 victory over Mercer guaranteed them at least a share of the SoCon title. So no matter what, they are conference champions. ETSU football has never laid claim to a conference title since joining the SoCon in 1978.
The Bucs have only made it to the FCS playoffs once before, back in 1996.
If ETSU falls to Samford, they will have to share the conference title with Wofford and possibly Furman too. The automatic playoff bid would also go to one of those teams, although ETSU could still get in if selected by the championship committee.
Saturday’s game will mark the end of Randy Sander’s first regular season as head football coach. He has set the program record for victories by an ETSU head coach in his first season. Sanders has led the Bucs to 8-2 overall this season.
And if his team wins on Saturday, he will have led them to an outright conference title too.
It will also mark the final regular season game for seniors like quarterback Austin Herink and linebacker Dylan Weigel, who have been with program since it was reinstated. More than 30 seniors will be recognized before the game. 11 were part of the first 2014-2015 class.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Location: William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
According to ETSU Athletics, tickets are still available. As of Wednesday afternoon, only a few hundred were left.
Fans can purchase tickets over the phone at 423-439-3878 or 423-439-4828, online at ETSUBucs.com under the “BUY TICKET NOW” link, or at the gates on game day.
Veterans, active military, police and first responders with a valid ID will receive a free ticket and be recognized during the game. The first 50 Heroes who enter the gates on Saturday will also receive a voucher for a free turkey courtesy of Food City.
Saturday’s weather will be sunny and mild. Temperatures will be near the low-50s for kickoff. They will increase to the mid-50s for halftime before dropping a few degrees by the end of the game.
Follow @VictoriaWJHL for the latest weather forecast and alerts.
How to watch & listen
Streaming: ESPN3. Click here to watch. Our own Kasey Marler will be reporting from the sidelines.
Radio: Buccaneer Sports Network (WXSM-AM 640 and 104.9 FM). Pre-game coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. Click here for live audio.
Live stats: Click here to view live stats during the game.
Look for game coverage on News Channel 11 at 7p.
The Food City Zone, which features inflatables for children and other fun pre-game activities, will open at 10 a.m. It is located between lots 21 and 22 near the main roundabout entering campus from State of Franklin.
The Buc Walk will begin at 10:45 a.m.
Campus parking lots open at 8 a.m. for tailgating on game day. Parking is available in the parking garage and Lot 22 (behind Bojangles). Cost is $10 per car.
Click here for game day parking map.
Click here for tailgating guidelines.
Clear bag policy/enhanced security
ETSU has implemented a clear bag policy and increased security measures for all home football games inside William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
The Bulldogs are 5-5 overall this season and 4-3 against conference opponents.
Last Saturday, Samford lost to the Citadel 27-42, taking them out of contention for the SoCon title.
The Bulldogs achieved victories against Western Carolina (66-28), VMI (73-22), Furman (38-25), and No. 8 Wofford 35-20. They suffered losses to Mercer (24-20), Chattanooga (20-27), the Citadel (27-42).
Samford currently has a one-game win streak over ETSU. Last year, they defeated the Bucs 42-7. ETSU beat them 15-14 in 2016.
In the FCS, Samford is ranked 4th for total offense.
Quarterback Devlin Hodges leads the FCS for total offense, completion percentage, completions per game, and total passing yards. He has passed for an average 388 yards per game.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Kelvin McKnight is ranked among the top three in the FCS for receptions and receiving yards.
If ETSU wins, they will be outright Southern Conference champions and will receive an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The NCAA will release the playoff bracket on Sunday, Nov. 18.