Savannah State vs. Albany State
Photo: Savannah State Athletics

For the first time since 2011, Albany State will play in the Division II football playoffs as the No. 4 seed playing host to fifth-seeded West Georgia.`

The Golden Rams are coming off winning its first SIAC championship since 2013, blanking Miles 31-0.

They finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-1, including a perfect 6-0 record in conference play.

Meanwhile, the Wolves finished third in the Gulf South Conference going 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the conference.

Familiar foes 

These two teams have met four times since 2016. While West Georgia has won three of those four matchups, Albany State won the most recent defeating the Wolves 26-14 in 2019.

Keys to Victory

For Albany State …

Albany State had the top defense in all of Division II allowing less than 5 points per game during the season.

They recorded six shutouts during the year including, three over last four games. They only allowed two opponents to score in double figures all season.

The Golden Rams run defense took center stage not allowing a single rushing touchdown all season — the only team in the country to do so. In addition, they ranked 10th allowing just 81.6 rushing yards per game.

Their defense is led by linebacker Stephen Pierre who was not only named SIAC Defensive Player of the Year but also SIAC Player of the Year.

Despite having one of the top defenses in all of Division II football, Pierre was just one of three Albany State defenders selected to the All-SIAC team.

Their best offense is great defense as they are not a team that has the ball in their hand much ranking at the bottom of the SIAC in time of possession.

While that is the case, they are stout on the offensive end, ranking in the top-3 in rushing and passing touchdowns in the SIAC.

Whether or not their offense is able to provide them any resistance could determine the outcome.

For West Georgia …

West Georgia is among the top pass offenses in all of Division II football ranking sixth in passing yards per game and eighth in passing yards per game.

They were led by quarterback Harrison Frost who averaged 302.7 passing yards per game which was second in the conference and ninth in Division II.

His top receiver is Mechane Slade, who led the team with 65 receptions averaging 80.4 receiving yards per game and seven receiving touchdowns.

They were also solid on the ground scoring 21 rushing touchdowns despite a less than spectacular yards per game total.

They had four different running backs score at least three rushing touchdowns led by Jace Jordan who scored eight.

West Georgia’s defense is similar to Albany State’s offense in that they are not great but effective.

The Wolves allowed the fewest total yards in the Gulf South Conference at 313.3 per game as well as the lowest scoring average at 17.3 points per game.

Their defense’s ability to produce stops against Albany State’s offense will be key to West Georgia advancing to the second round.

Prediction

As previously mentioned, this game will come down to Albany State’s offense against West Georgia’s defense. Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, Albany State’s defense is possibly the most dominant at the Division II level. They need to have the best performance of the year to win this one and I believe they will.

Albany State 20-12



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