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VMI On the Rise

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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The stretch run of the year, with the Keydets nearing big picture goals, is lining up to be an all-out sprint.

Over halfway into this college football season, VMI is one of the standout surprises of the FCS level. After opening Southern Conference play back in mid-September with statement overtime victory at defending league co-champion East Tennessee State, the Keydets have, already, had an October to remember; reclaiming the Silver Shako for the first time since 2002 with an empowering rivalry week win at The Citadel, now defeating SoCon heavyweight Samford in overtime.

VMI, after four wins the last three years combined, has now matched that total. Furthermore, the Keydets have matched their league win total from the previous five years, with their three current SoCon victories equaling the previous extent from their historic reintroduction. Entering the final leg of the season, VMI is more than just a feel-good story, but a rising regional power and a legitimate playoff contender.

Scott Wachenheim has the Keydets playing with momentum and a little bit of magic alike.

Saturday's win over Samford was VMI's second triumph, after the aforementioned victory in Johnson City, in extra play. Remarkably, against the Bulldogs, the Keydets had a 390-yard passer in standout quarterback Reece Udinski, a 170-yard receiver in top option Jakob Herres -- and neither were the star of the game. Instead, running back Alex Ramsey rushed 37 times for 163 yards and a school record six touchdowns, the game-winning score in overtime included. Overall, VMI compiled 538 total yards on the day.

This past weekend was a mere continuation for one of the SoCon's most prolific offenses. The Keydets have the league's leading passer, rusher and receiver. 

There is a growing excitement around Lexington with VMI emerging as a national name. At 3-1 in SoCon play, the Keydets will enter upcoming games with Mercer, Western Carolina and Furman, a league matchup that might prove quite significant, squarely in the spotlight. Right now, VMI and the Paladins are the only SoCon teams with three league wins. Postseason implications very well may be on the line. The Keydets will also play on national television in a mid-November trip to Army.

The stretch run of the year, with the Keydets nearing big picture goals, is lining up to be an all-out sprint.   

With a history that dates back to 1891, this season, for VMI, could be one to remember. At this point, the Keydets are completing a turnaround and starting a new standard at the same time.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports