With the "Power 5" opponent for 2017 locked up in Clemson on September 9th at Memorial Stadium, we knew the other Out-of-Conference opponents to be announced would not be of the Power 5 variety.
Today the Mercer Bears put out a press-release that they would be taking on the Tigers in 2017. The date and time are still to be announced, but I have a suspicion it will be on what is lovingly referred to as "SEC-SOCON Challenge Saturday." This is the Saturday prior to the big rivalry games on the last weekend of the season.
Last season the Auburn Tigers faced the Samford Bulldogs while the Alabama Crimson Tide faced the Western Carolina Catamounts. In 2013 Alabama played Tennessee-Chattanooga on the weekend that Florida lost to Georgia Southern.
No, I will never pass up an opportunity to bring that particular game up.
The Mercer Bears just completed their second year of football under head coach Bobby Lamb. This past season was their first season in the Southern Conference. They finished with a 6-6 overall record, 1-6 in the Southern Conference. In their first season of football (2013), the Bears finished with a 10-2 record in the Pioneer Football League.
Prior to becoming the Mercer head coach, Bobby Lamb coached at a school I dislike almost as much as I dislike Alabama due to my former Southern Conference fandom - the Furman Paladins. Lamb was a stand-out quarterback for the Paladins in the mid-1980s and was SOCON player of the year during the 1985 season. His Paladins lost the national championship game that year to a little upstart program in only their second year of Division 1 football: Georgia Southern.
This game is still a few years off, but it solidifies who that season's FCS opponent will be. I'm sure this match-up will remain on the schedule even if the SEC does something amazing like bump up the number of conference games to 9. It will be a big game for Mercer and their players.