SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference’s 36-game league football schedule for 2023 is set to get under way Saturday, Sept. 9, with 2022 SoCon champion Samford opening its title defense when it visits Western Carolina.

Another solo SoCon game follows on Sept. 16 when Chattanooga hosts The Citadel. Three league games are set for Sept. 23, with Mercer visiting Furman, Samford hosting Chattanooga and VMI welcoming Wofford.

ETSU is the final SoCon squad to get its league slate under way when it visits Samford on Sept. 30. Each Saturday from Sept. 30 to Nov. 11 features four SoCon games.

Regular-season play wraps up for all nine SoCon squads on Saturday, Nov. 18, with the opening round of the FCS playoffs starting the following weekend. Three league games are set for the final day of the regular season.

Full broadcast schedules will be announced later, but all nine schools’ home games will air on ESPN+ if not selected for national or regional broadcast.

Samford, Furman, Mercer and Chattanooga finished the 2022 campaign in the national rankings. Samford was No. 7 in both the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Top 25 and the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, while Furman ranked 10th in both polls. Mercer finished 21st in the AFCA poll at 24th in the Stats Perform poll, while Chattanooga was tied for No. 24 in the AFCA poll and was No. 23 in the final Stats Perform rankings.

Samford finished the 2022 campaign with an 11-2 overall record and went 8-0 in SoCon play, winning the league title outright for the first time. The Bulldogs, who earned the No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Division I Football Championship, won a school-record 10 straight games before falling 27-9 in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs to fourth-ranked and third-seeded North Dakota State, which would go on to play for the national title. Coach Chris Hatcher was named the AFCA Region 2 Coach of the Year and finished third in voting for the Stats Perform Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the national coach of the year.

Furman went 10-3 overall and 7-1 in league action to earn an at-large selection to the FCS playoffs. The Paladins cruised past No. 15/12 Elon 31-6 in the opening round before dropping a 41-38 decision at No. 7/5 UIW in the second round.

Fifteen SoCon players earned All-America honors following the 2022 campaign, including eight who claimed honors from multiple organizations. Furman tight end Ryan Miller and ETSU defensive back Alijah Huzzie earned first-team honors from the AFCA, Associated Press, Athlon Sports, FCS ADA, HERO Sports and Stats Perform. Chattanooga offensive lineman McClendon Curtis was selected to five of those squads, while UTC defensive lineman Jay Person and VMI long snapper Robert Soderholm were picked by four of those organizations. Mercer all-purpose player Devron Harper and Chattanooga defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell earned three selections each and Samford quarterback Michael Hiers earned All-America honors from the AP and Stats Perform.

2023 Southern Conference football schedule (league games only)

Sept. 9

Samford at Western Carolina

Sept. 16

The Citadel at Chattanooga

Sept. 23

Mercer at Furman

Chattanooga at Samford

Wofford at VMI

Sept. 30

Western Carolina at The Citadel

ETSU at Samford

VMI at Mercer

Chattanooga at Wofford

Oct. 7

The Citadel at Furman

Mercer at ETSU

Samford at Wofford

Western Carolina at Chattanooga

Oct. 14

VMI at The Citadel

Wofford at ETSU

Furman at Samford

Chattanooga at Mercer

Oct. 21

ETSU at Chattanooga

Furman at Western Carolina

Wofford at Mercer

Samford at VMI

Oct. 28

The Citadel at Samford

ETSU at Furman

Mercer at Western Carolina

Chattanooga at VMI

Nov. 4

Mercer at The Citadel

VMI at ETSU

Furman at Chattanooga

Western Carolina at Wofford

Nov. 11

Wofford at The Citadel

ETSU at Western Carolina

VMI at Furman

Samford at Mercer

Nov. 18

The Citadel at ETSU

Furman at Wofford

Western Carolina at VMI