Citadel’s 2015 football schedule features USC, CSU

The last time The Citadel played South Carolina was in 2011, when the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs 41-20 at Williams-Brice Stadium. The teams will play next year on Nov. 21 in Columbia. (AP Photo/File)

Six home games, including this year’s Military Classic of the South showdown against VMI, and road contests against South Carolina and former Southern Conference member Georgia Southern highlight The Citadel’s 2015 football schedule. The Bulldogs’ home schedule also includes non-conference rival Charleston Southern.

After playing a 12-game schedule each of the past two years, the Bulldogs have 11 games scheduled for next season with four of the first five at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Game times and ticket information will be announced at a later date.

“We are excited about the upcoming 2015 season,” said head coach Mike Houston. “With 15 starters returning, we will be looking to build on the foundation that was laid by last year’s team. With four of our first five games at home, we hope to draw a lot of energy from our loyal fans.”

The meeting with South Carolina on Nov. 21 is the first since 2011, a game in which The Citadel trailed only 20-13 at halftime. Before that, the teams hadn’t met since the Bulldogs’ shocking 38-35 upset of the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium in 1990.

The game at Georgia Southern on Sept. 19 is the only road game among the opening five and marks the first meeting since the Eagles departed the SoCon for the Sun Belt after the 2013-14 school year. The longtime opponents have been evenly matched during most of the rivalry, with seven of the last eight decided by seven points or less.

“On the road we will be venturing to some familiar hostile environments such as Georgia Southern, Furman and South Carolina,” said Houston. “It should be another exciting year, and we look forward to the journey.”

The Citadel opens the season at home on Sept. 5 with its first game against Davidson since 1985, marking the sixth straight year the Bulldogs have kicked off the campaign at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The SoCon opener takes place the following week when Western Carolina visits Charleston.

The Wildcats were a member of the SoCon in football through the 1975 season and have been in the Pioneer League since 2001. The Bulldogs have won the last eight meetings in the series, with Davidson looking for its first victory since 1973.

The Catamounts were the surprise team of the SoCon a year ago, winning seven games for the first time in over a decade including a 29-15 victory over The Citadel in Cullowhee, snapping a three-game Bulldog winning streak in the series.

The Bulldogs also play at home against Charleston Southern (Sept. 26) as well as SoCon games against Wofford (Oct. 10), Mercer (Oct. 31) and VMI (Nov. 7).

The Citadel will be looking to avenge consecutive losses to the Buccaneers, while the Wofford contest will be part of Parents’ Weekend. The Bulldogs seek to end a 16-game skid against the Terriers including a 17-13 loss in Spartanburg last year when Aaron Miller was stopped just shy of the end zone on the final play.

Mercer will be playing the Bulldogs in Charleston for the first time since 1931 after resurrecting its football program a year ago. The Citadel won the initial meeting as SoCon rivals last November, holding on for a 28-26 victory in Macon.

VMI rounds out the home slate with The Citadel hoping to win the coveted Silver Shako for the ninth straight time, having continued its run of success against its military rival with a 45-25 triumph in Lexington to close out the 2014 season. It also will serve as The Citadel’s Homecoming contest.

The Citadel plays back-to-back SoCon road games at Samford on Oct. 17 and Furman the following Saturday. The Bulldogs played thrillers with both opponents last year, losing in the final seconds to Samford and pulling out a dramatic 42-35 overtime win over the Paladins.

Chattanooga rounds out the SoCon road schedule on Nov. 14. The Mocs won 34-14 last year in Charleston en route to a 10-win campaign, a perfect 7-0 SoCon slate and a berth in the FCS quarterfinals.