Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the Charleston Southern football program this week, the Buccaneers look to close out their Big South Conference schedule and win their final home game of the season against Liberty on Saturday.
CSU, which will celebrate homecoming and senior day in the 2 p.m. contest, is hoping to become only the second program in Big South history to win six conference games in a season.
A win also gives the Bucs the outright conference championship to go with a title they shared with Coastal Carolina in 2005.
And, there’s more.
CSU (8-1 overall, 5-0 in the Big South) enters the game with its highest national ranking ever — No. 8 in the FCS coaches poll — and a win against Liberty would improve the Bucs’ chances of earning a top eight national seed and/or a home game in the FCS playoffs.
“We’re more than excited about wrapping up that first playoff berth in school history but we have more work to do,” CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We have an opportunity to accomplish some big things. It’s homecoming, it’s senior day, and we certainly want to have a great day for those guys.”
The senior class also has a chance to leave as the winningest in school history.
“That’s a big deal, especially when you think a lot of these guys were on a team that was 0-11,” Chadwell said, referring to the 2011 season.
The Bucs continue to lead the nation in total defense and are ranked among the top 10 nationally in seven other categories.
The visiting Flames, however, present quite a challenge. Liberty (5-4, 2-2) has struggled this season, but has proven to be a tough team to beat for CSU. The Bucs haves only beaten Liberty three times in their history and only once at home — in 2005. Liberty blasted CSU, 56-14, in 2013 and has outscored CSU, 94-30, in its last two games played at Buccaneer Field.
Liberty senior quarterback Josh Woodrum set the Big South record for career passing yards last week, breaking the record held by former CSU quarterback Collin Drafts. In his last appearance at CSU, Woodrum passed for 239 yards and three touchdowns. This season, he has passed for 2,333 yards while completing 62 percent of his pass attempts.
“He presents a lot of challenges,” Chadwell said. “He’s a big guy, hard to bring down. He’s a senior and nothing you throw at him defensively gets him off kilter because he’s so experienced. He’s a proven guy with great skill and ability.”
Liberty senior Darrin Peterson is generally regarded as the top receiver in the Big South and is projected as an NFL prospect.
“They’re talented, as talented as any team we have played this season.” Chadwell said. “They hit a little bump in the middle of the season, but they’re probably playing their best football here at the end. They’re probably playing for a possible playoff bid as well so I fully expect they will show up and play well.”
Junior Darius Hammond set the CSU single-season record for all-purpose yards in last week’s 28-14 win over Kennesaw State. Hammond has 1,209 yards this season and is now third on the career all-purpose yards list with a season to go.
CSU junior running back Mike Holloway needs 32 yards rushing to reach 1,500 for his career. He is currently third on the career rushing list.
Senior receiver Nathan Perera enters Saturday with a chance to reach the top five in career receptions and career yards, needing six receptions and 49 yards to crack the top five.