More confident Chants set for return to Bison country

ccufoot-trioThe Coastal Carolina football team hopes Saturday’s FCS playoff quarterfinals visit to North Dakota State works out better the second time around.

The Chants (12-1) will take on the Bisons (12-1) at noon Saturday on ESPN in a rematch for a spot in the final four of the Football Championship Series playoffs.

Last year’s matchup was over almost before it started as the Bison raced out to a 31-0 lead and cruised to a 48-14 win en route to their third consecutive NCAA Championship. The Bison piled up 623 yards of offense to Coastal’s 281. The Chants went 1-of-9 on third downs and quarterback Alex Ross was 13-of-26 passing for 185 yards with two interceptions and a TD.

But Coastal seems to be coming in with a wave of confidence compared to last year, while the Bisons have been a bit shaky. The Chants are riding a seven-game road winning streak and now have a better idea what to expect at the FargoDome, where North Dakota State dodged a bullet in last week’s 27-24 win over South Dakota State.

“There is a difference as we go in,” said CCU coach Joe Moglia. “Last year we didn’t get seeded and had to play an opening-round game and then we had to go to Montana. That Montana victory is as outstanding a victory as any team in any program is going to have, but it was played in minus 25 degree temperature, we traveled 5,500 miles to go there and back, we came back and had exams and then we had to get on a plane and go play the No. 1 team in the country.

“Our guys gave it our best shot, but quite frankly, we didn’t have as much juice left as what we normally would have. I think that did take a little bit out of us. This year, we had a first-round bye, our guys were able to get three and half days off, we had a good week of practice that week and last week, we did a good job against Richmond and played at home. So I think we’re going to be in a better state mentally and physically than a year ago.”

Coastal was ranked among the nation’s top 5 throughout the regular season and attained a #1 rank for the final two weeks of the year in the FCS Coaches poll. Coastal set a Big South record by scoring 30-plus points in each of its first 11 games. CCU broke its own Big South record, set last season, with 12 games of 30-plus points in a single season.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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