Odd circumstances have lined up on University Boulevard to make North Charleston the scene of Saturday’s biggest game in the state. The Gamecocks and Tigers are off, No. 16 Charleston Southern and No. 3 Coastal Carolina are nationally ranked and the upstart Buccaneers want to dethrone the defending Big South champion Chanticleers.
Here’s a college football first: A “get there early” warning from Charleston Southern.
Parking gets tight around a 4,000-seat stadium when the home team is 9-1 and facing a 9-0 league title favorite.
This is the Big South’s version of “GameDay” hoopla, the biggest event in Big South football history, the first time league teams have faced each other with both ranked in the two major FCS polls.
Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia on what worries him about playing the Bucs: “Their turnover margin (is outstanding) and (they have) excellent ball security on their end. On defense they get to the ball and they have consistency in their special teams.”
“We’ve got to make them run the ball sideways,” Chanticleers linebacker Quinn Backus said.
Warren Peper agrees with me on Coastal Carolina, but we’re sideways on Citadel-Elon. The rest of Week 11:
Coastal Carolina at Charleston Southern
CSU must stop the Big South’s top rushing offense, an attack that includes redshirt freshman D’Angelo Henderson. The Summerville High School grad has four touchdowns and 393 yards rushing (8.4 yards per carry).
Sapakoff pick: Coastal, 31-24
Peper pick: Coastal, 41-28
The Citadel at Elon
Elon (2-7, 1-4 in the Southern Conference) is in last place but outgained Wofford in a 31-27 loss in Spartanburg, the first of three straight losses by a total of 18 points.
Sapakoff pick: Elon, 34-24
Peper pick: The Citadel, 28-27
Florida A&M at S.C. State
Buddy Pough’s 6-3 Bulldogs are rolling toward a nine-win season. Richard Cue threw for four touchdowns, ran for two more in last week’s 45-9 rout of Savannah State.
Sapakoff pick: S.C. State, 35-14
Peper pick: S.C. State, 35-28
LSU at Alabama
A Texas-sized opportunity for the Crimson Tide to solidify its No. 1 status, and for A.J. McCarron to jump back into the Heisman Trophy race.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 22-14
Peper pick: Alabama, 30-21
Missouri at Kentucky
With or without James Franklin at quarterback, Mizzou should be able to survive Lexington.
Sapakoff pick: Missouri, 35-17
Peper pick: Missouri, 41-27
Auburn at Tennessee
Auburn leads the SEC in rushing. That travels well.
Sapakoff pick: Auburn, 31-21
Peper pick: Auburn, 39-20
Vanderbilt at Florida
The Gators (4-4) need this one to avoid a losing season (still play at South Carolina, home vs. Southern and Florida State).
Sapakoff pick: Florida, 21-20
Peper pick: Florida, 27-21
Virginia Tech at Miami
Might wind up as a critical game for Clemson’s at-large Orange Bowl hopes. Miami lost running back Duke Johnson (920 yards in 2013) to a broken ankle last week at Florida State.
Sapakoff pick: Miami, 23-17
Peper pick: Miami, 27-17
N.C. State at Duke
If Duke wins this one and beats Miami in Durham next week, the Blue Devils are in ridiculously prime position for an ACC Coastal Division crown.
Sapakoff pick: Duke, 28-17
Peper pick: Duke, 30-20
Virginia at North Carolina
Tar Heels don’t have quarterback Bryn Renner (shoulder surgery) but Virginia has lost six straight, including 59-10 to Clemson last week.
Sapakoff pick: North Carolina, 31-23
Peper pick: North Carolina, 34-21
Last week: Gene Sapakoff 9-1, Warren Peper 8-2
Season: Peper 74-26, Sapakoff 73-27