Silly season begins. After Chattanooga Mocs national mentions in regional and national academic honors, the start of preseason polls is out with Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 released for the 2021 campaign.
The Mocs are 20th among Athlon’s perennial picks. The 2020-21 campaign saw the squad post a 3-2 mark, 3-1 in the Southern Conference before it came to an abrupt end due to COVID-19.
All 11 starters are back on offense with additional depth apparent with the number of backups that got extended looks. Jacobs Blocking Award winner Cole Strange anchors an offensive line that has three different running backs behind with collegiate 100-yard games. Ditto on defense which was dominant with All-America defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell headlining the crew.
Chattanooga is one of two Southern Conference squads to make the list behind No. 18 VMI with Furman receiving honorable mention. The season opener is eye-catching with Ohio Valley Conference favorite Austin Peay coming in at No. 23.
It’s the first home opener with both teams ranked since the narrow 23-20 loss on Sept. 5, 2015 against Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks were No. 7 that night while Chattanooga entered at No. 8. It will be the fourth time in five years opening with an OVC opponent.
2017: 12th-ranked Mocs lost 27-13 to No. 5 Jacksonville State in Montgomery
2018: Won 34-10 over Tennessee Tech in Finley Stadium
2019: 24-10 win over Eastern Illinois in Wright’s debut
The Mocs are readying for the 2021 fall campaign. Home games await hosting Austin Peay, Western Carolina, ETSU, Furman and The Citadel. It opens on Thursday, Sept. 2, with a visit from the Governors. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.