GAMEDAY

WHO: Coastal Carolina (9-0, 3-0 Big South) at Charleston Southern (9-1, 2-0)

WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Buccaneer Field

Never has there been a more anticipated athletic event held on the Charleston Southern University campus.

Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina meet Saturday on Buccaneer Field in a football game pitting two nationally ranked teams in a crucial Big South Conference showdown.

Coastal Carolina is ranked third among the nation’s FCS teams with a 9-0 record, 3-0 in the Big South. CSU is ranked 16th and is 9-1, 2-0.

Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell could not have envisioned such a scenario when he started his first season as the Bucs’ head coach several months ago. The Buccaneers are seeking a school-record 10th win and have already set a Big South record with six road wins this season.

Chadwell spent most of the last few weeks purposely not talking about this game. His focus all season has been on the next opponent, not wanting his team to look ahead or get distracted. But this week he welcomed the attention.

“It’s not something that has happened around here in this program very often and certainly has not happened for this group of players,” said Chadwell. “I want this team to enjoy this time. They have earned this time in the spotlight.

“We have worked hard to put ourselves in this position. It’s the biggest game in the state and I want our players to feed off the atmosphere and the excitement of what this game means.”

What this game means is a possible Big South Conference title and a berth in the FCS playoffs at the end of the regular season. Coastal Carolina can clinch a tie for the title with a win, while CSU still has a road game at Gardner-Webb next week and a home game against Liberty in two weeks.

“It’s a big game, but it’s just our next one,” said Chadwell. “We still have two games left and both of those are just as big as it pertains to achieving the goals that we have set.”

Saturday’s game features the top two running backs in the Big South. Coastal’s Lorenzo Taliaferro leads the league in rushing (1,251 yards, 21 touchdowns), and CSU junior Christian Reyes (1,067 yards, 7 TDs) is second.

The Chanticleers’ offense is the most explosive in the conference and one of the top scoring units nationally. Coastal has scored 40 or more points six times this season and averages 47.7 points per game. The Chants have topped 600 total yards in three games while averaging 510 yards per game.

CSU’s defense rates as one of the top units in the Big South, allowing 19.4 points per game. CSU boasts the top third-down defense in the league, ranking fifth in the country.

“Our defense has a huge challenge but they have been a resilient group that has been able to rise to the occasion each week,” said Chadwell. “We can help them offensively if we maintain drives and score when we get in position to score.”