Charleston Southern plays at The Citadel on Saturday, setting up another page in the football rivalry that seems to come and go.
The two FCS programs located just 16 miles apart have played 11 times, the first time in 2002. Saturday's game is the second of a four-game deal through 2021 that has all of the games being played at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium. The schools are working on a new contract that would extend the series into the foreseeable future.
CSU athletic director Jeff Barber said he wants to continue the series but is seeking a deal that includes games at Charleston Southern.
“There is a clear desire on both sides to keep the series going,” Barber said. “It needs to be an equitable situation and that’s where we are right now.”
Only two of the 11 games in the series have been played at Charleston Southern.
Charleston Southern coach Autry Denson will be getting his first taste of the rivalry.
“Anytime you talk about a rivalry in college football, it’s something you want to be a part of,” said Autry, who came to CSU from Notre Dame. “It’s exciting to be in a game like this. Rivalries are fun. Football is fun. I am really excited to see us get out on the field again.
“We will focus on ourselves this week and try to improve. We try to make each week about us, correcting things and getting ready for a good performance.”
The Citadel's Brent Thompson also wants to keep the series going.
“I hope there is still that spirit of competition between the two teams because that’s what makes this game exciting. It felt like a rivalry game last year,” said Thompson, whose Bulldogs beat the Bucs, 43-14, a year ago to snap a four-game losing streak against CSU.
The Bulldogs won five of the first six games in the series, with CSU winning in 2006. After the 2007 game, the schools didn't play again until 2012. The Buccaneers won four straight games from 2013-15, including two wins in 2015 — one coming in the FCS playoffs. Three of those four wins were recently vacated by the NCAA due to eligibility infractions, leaving the official series record at 6-2 in favor of The Citadel.
As for Saturday's game, The Citadel (1-2) is coming in confident after a stunning upset of Georgia Tech in Atlanta last week. The Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets, 27-24, for their first victory over an ACC team.
The Citadel's offense is averaging 269.3 yards per game on the ground, sixth-best among all FCS teams.
CSU (0-3) has struggled defensively, unable to stop the run in losses to Furman, South Carolina and North Carolina A&T. The Bucs are ranked dead last among FCS teams, allowing 384.7 yards rushing per game. Opponents are averaging 9.5 yards per carry with 15 rushing touchdowns.
Thompson warned against the Bulldogs, No. 25 in the FCS rankings this week, having a letdown on Saturday.
“CSU is getting better every single day,” Thompson said. “They are a dangerous football team, very hungry. They played a difficult schedule, and I feel like they are going to be a team that peaks in the middle and end of their season.”
Citadel vs. CSU
Nov. 29, 2018 Citadel 43, CSU 14
Dec. 5, 2015 CSU 14, Citadel 6*
Sept. 26, 2015 CSU 33, Citadel 20*
Sept. 20, 2014 CSU 20, Citadel 18*
Aug. 31, 2013 CSU 32, Citadel 29
Sept. 1, 2012 Citadel 49, CSU 14
Sept. 1, 2007 Citadel 35, CSU 14
Sept. 9, 2006 CSU 38, Citadel 35
Sept. 3, 2005 Citadel 28, CSU 14
Aug. 30, 2003 Citadel 64, CSU 10
Nov. 21, 2002 Citadel 53, CSU 19
* — CSU victories vacated by NCAA