CCU football fans looking forward to cockfight with USC

Football coaches are fond of reminding us that the games are played one at a time. The implication, of course, is not to look past one opponent for another, and they’re right. They shouldn’t do that.

But for fans and the media, it’s OK to take a sneak peek down the schedule, especially since Coastal Carolina followers have been waiting for the Chanticleers’ Nov. 23 meeting at South Carolina since football first arrived on campus a decade ago.

No disrespect to Charleston Southern, whom the Chants will face this week in hopes of going 10-0 for the first time in program history. Coastal is unlikely to run the table with its looming date with the Gamecocks, but an upset in this rooster fight seems far more likely than when this date was announced.

South Carolina’s athletic department had an unwritten rule against scheduling Coastal is virtually every sport, the result of a board of trustee from Florence who was still mad about USC Coastal’s split from the mother university in 1993. Talk about holding a grudge.

Football wasn’t even a consideration back then. CCU’s growing baseball and soccer programs couldn’t get a shot at Goliath. That finally changed a few years ago and the two schools have met in virtually every sport, but football against the Gamecocks in Williams-Brice Stadium? That’s the ultimate.

That dream will finally come true on Nov. 23, and Chanticleer fans were content to drive to Columbia and take their whooping (and pick up a nice paycheck) just for the opportunity to play on the same field as the big boys. Now, in this most magical of seasons, the thinking has changed.

No one expected Coastal to go undefeated and earn a No. 3 national ranking in FCS. The Chants’ high-scoring offense has proven it can score points, perhaps enough to keep pace with the hot-and-cold Gamecocks’ offense. The CCU defense would have to rise to the occasion if the Chants are to have a chance.

Just like the guy who got all excited when he heard his odds of winning the lottery were a gazillion-to-1 (“So you’re saying there’s a chance!”), Chanticleer fans certainly have reason for optimism. It would require the greatest effort on CCU’s part, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Longtime USC fans still cringe over the undefeated 1984 squad’s upset loss to lowly Navy in 1984, and The Citadel infamously took down the Gamecocks in 1990, but that was a different era in USC football. Wofford has put a few scares into South Carolina in recent years, and Appalachian State paved the way for FCS schools everywhere by upsetting Michigan in the Big House in 2007. But those are about the only tidbits of football history that favor the Chants.

So it’s not impossible, but it’s certainly a longshot. Just the thought of Gamecocks’ defensive end Jadeveon Clowney lining up across from Coastal QB Alex Ross, and CCU’s undersized but overachieving linebacker Quinn Backus trying to chase down USC speedster Mike Davis create doubt for Chant fans.

In fact, Coastal coach Joe Moglia may have to make some tough decisions in his business-like approach to the game. Do you risk injury to some of your top players the week before the start of the FCS playoffs, or do you play your backups, collect your check and let your starters rest up for the winnable games? And maybe Steve Spurrier opts to sit some of his stars against Coastal to get ready for that other instate rival that starts with a “C” and has seven letters … the name escsapes me.

All of these “what ifs” will have to wait a week while the Chants prepare for No. 25-ranked Charleston Southern and a successful Big South Conference title defense. But CCU football fans have been waiting a decade, so what’s another week when you have a chance to shock the world, or at least this little corner of the Carolinas.

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