The second-to-last game of the season brings the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers of the FCS's Big South Conference to Columbia. This is our first football contest against Coastal. I've heard before that we've not met the Chants on the gridiron due to institutional conflicts dating back to Coastal's separation from the USC system in the early 90s. Readers who are more familiar with this period in our history than I am may be able to fill us in on this conflict. Whatever the case may be, I kind of love that Coastal's mascot was created to pay homage to the university's relationship to USC while also paying tribute to a Geoffrey Chaucer story.
There was some acrimony in the Coastal fan base after David Bennett was dismissed after the 2011 season. Bennett's program had plateaued, but many claimed he deserved more credit for having turned the young Coastal program respectable in fairly quick fashion. In any event, Joe Moglia has gotten his tenure off to a decent start. The Chants went 8-5 and made it to the second round of the playoffs in his first year, and with the team tabbed the favorite in the Big South for this season, bigger things may be on the way. The team returns 22 starters from a year ago, including the preseason favorites for both offensive and defensive player of the year in the Big South. Unfortunately, former USC QB Aramis Hillary, who enjoyed a good senior season for the Chants last year, won't be one of those taking part in the contest.
Although this should be a solid FCS team, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I'm terribly worried about a loss here. It might, of course, happen one day, as it has before, but the chances of even a great FCS team beating a good SEC team are slim. Moreover, it's much more likely that the FCS team to upset us would be Wofford, whose unconventional offense allows it to level the playing field against us somewhat. Coastal does have a great offense (check out this interesting story on OC Dave Patenaude), but with a read-option running game and a fairly conventional passing game, it's not as far off the beaten path for us, so our superior talent should show through better for us than it often does against Wofford. I'd be surprised if we don't win by at least three scores.
Unless CCU gives us more than we bargained for, the key thing is that this game will hopefully give us time to heal before Clemson. The Tigers seem to have wised up to our strategy of scheduling FCS opponents on the second-to-last week, and they've schedule The Citadel in the same slot. However, as we saw a couple of years ago, The Citadel, like Wofford, plays a very physical style of football, and I would expect CU-Citadel to be more interesting than USC-Coastal, despite the fact that Coastal is likely better than The Citadel.