The Samford Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4) will play the Florida Gators (4-5, 2-5) this Saturday in the swamps of Gainesville, Florida.
Each year, Samford football plays one major FBS program. This year, the Bulldogs are revisiting the state of Florida for the first time since 2018.
Last season, the Bulldogs only played in-conference games due to Southern Conference COVID-19 restrictions. In 2019, the Bulldogs played Auburn, and in 2018, they played the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee.
Though these types of games usually end with a loss, Samford occasionally gives FCS programs a run for their money. In 2018, the Duck Hodges-led Bulldogs played Florida State closely, even striking first with a deep bomb to receiver Kelvin McKnight. The final score was a 36-26 Seminole victory.
The Gators have had a tough season by their prestigious standards. They are currently 4-4, with two losses coming from unranked opponents Kentucky (Oct. 2) and LSU (Oct. 16).
Florida’s struggles can largely be attributed to their defense, which allowed 26 points per game in the month of October, which consisted of three unranked opponents.
Speaking of defensive woes, the Bulldogs are no stranger to them as well.
Samford has allowed 499 yards per game this season, which ranks dead last in the conference. The first month of the season appeared to feature a much improved defense, but it is now clear that the defense still needs improvement to reach the playoffs.
The Bulldogs have been led by senior quarterback Liam Welch, one of the premiere offensive talents in the conference. Welch was recently named the SoCon Offensive Player of the Month for October. This was the second time the Augusta, Georgia, native has received this award during his career at Samford.
Welch currently leads the conference in yards per game (322.4). He currently averages 364.4 offensive yards per game, which is fourth in the country. In the month of October, Welch passed for 1,058 yards and four touchdowns over four games.
In order for Samford to keep this game close, they will have to capitalize on Florida’s struggling defense with both passing and rushing firepower. Also, their defense will have to step up and cause turnovers against a team that has thrown an abysmal 14 interceptions this season.
The Samford vs. Florida game will take place on Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. in Gainesville, Florida. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and SECN+.
After their Florida bout, the Bulldogs will then return home on Nov. 20 to play the Furman Paladins. This will be the final game of the regular season and Senior Night for the Bulldogs.
NOTE: This article was written prior to Samford’s game against The Citadel on Nov. 6. Some statistics, records and standings may be different from what is written.