This post continues our series checking in on next season's opponents. Our goal is to have gathered useful information about each character from Carolina's villains gallery prior to the beginning of the season. We've previously talked about the East Carolina Pirates, the Georgia Bulldogs, the Navy Midshipmen, the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Auburn Tigers, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, the , the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Florida Gators. Today, we're talking about the Citadel Bulldogs.
The Citadel struggled last year, going 3-8, with one victory being a meaningless romp over Division II Chowan. The program has in recent years been a bit of a whipping boy in the powerful Southern Conference, which is often regarded as the SEC of the FCS. Head coach Kevin Higgins has been in Charleston since 2005, and he only has one winning season to his credit. The program is still waiting for Higgins to reenact the magic he worked at Lehigh, where he built an FCS powerhouse in the late 1990s.
The Citadel's most notable loss is Cortez Allen, a CB who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 4th round. The Citadel does return a decent amount of experience otherwise, with ten returning starters on offense and eight on defense.
The Bulldogs run a 4-2-5 defense, much like Carolina. The Citadel was quite good against the pass last season, ranking 21st in the FCS in pass defense. However, with their star CB gone, it may be difficult to duplicate that number, and regardless, most teams knew they could run the ball at will against the Bulldogs, making the pass defense a moot point. That said, the Citadel does return some experience on the interior, led by LB Tolu Akindele, a pre-season All-SoCon selection. This experience may contribute to an improved rushing defense. Even if it does, though, the Citadel will still need to improve on a -1.18 turnover differential, particularly if it's to have any luck against Carolina, considering that most upsets and near upsets in FCS-FBS contests are a matter of turnovers.
The Citadel runs the triple option. Before you allow nightmarish visions of Wofford to cause you to lose sleep, you should know that the Citadel was 109th in total offense and 111th in scoring offense in the FCS last year. This is not an offense to be particularly afraid of, in other words. Of course, with ten returning starters and much more experience on the offensive line, the Citadel may see some increased cohesiveness.
This is Carolina's one true gimme game for the season. ECU and Navy are the next closest things to cakewalks, and both should present Carolina with relatively stiff challenges. However, Carolina shouldn't have any trouble dispatching an FCS team, particularly one that's projected to finish eighth in its conference.
Carolina will win this game going away, likely by four or more touchdowns.