Charleston Southern opens Big South with tough one
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — It's finally Big South Conference season for Charleston Southern, and the Buccaneers start with perhaps the toughest task the league has to offer.
Charleston Southern heads to Stony Brook to face the Seawolves, who have won three Big South titles in a row, including going undefeated in the league last year. And this Stony Brook team might be even better after beating Football Bowl Subdivision Army 23-3 last weekend.
"I wish I could find a weakness," Buccaneers coach Jay Mills said. "But they are as good of a football team as I have seen in my 10 years in the league."
In other games involving South Carolina's Football Championship Subdivision teams Saturday, Presbyterian travels to VMI; Furman is at Wofford; The Citadel goes to Samford; and South Carolina State plays North Carolina Central in Indianapolis.
In Stony Brook, N.Y., Charleston Southern (1-3) will try to break a seven-game Big South losing streak against Stony Brook (4-1) in the league opener for both teams.
The Buccaneers were off last Saturday, and Mills said he told his team to take the weekend off and rejuvenate. He watched the Seawolves against Army and was quite impressed.
"We're only concerned when they are on the field on offense, defense and special teams," Mills said.
Charleston Southern has won just one game between the teams since Stony Brook joined the Big South, but Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said the Buccaneers are much better than the team that lost all 11 games last season,
"We've got six straight games against all good opponents — all opponents who can win this conference in my opinion," Priore said.
In Lexington, Va., Presbyterian (2-3) finally gets to play a Big South game that really means something against VMI (1-3).
After five years of waiting, the NCAA made the Blue Hose full Division I members in August, making Presbyterian eligible for the league title and the FCS playoff bid that goes with it,
"Having an opportunity to play for postseason play, that's something we haven't been able to say around here for a while," Blue Hose coach Harold Nichols said.
VMI coach Sparky Woods is excited to open conference play, too and his Keydets have been looking forward to the game against Presbyterian for a while.
"I remember the beating we took last year from them," Woods said of the Blue Hose's 38-6 win last season.
In Spartanburg, Wofford (4-0, 2-0 Southern Conference) renews South Carolina's oldest football rivalry against Furman (2-3, 1-1).
The Terriers won that first game in 1889 under very different rules by the odd-looking 5-1 score. Wofford coach Mike Ayers wasn't around for that one, but he remembers last season's 26-21 loss to Furman well.
"We're going to have to play better than we did last year, I guarantee you that," Ayers said.
Wofford's all-SoCon fullback, Eric Breitenstein, is coming off the best game of an illustrious career. The senior ran for a league record 321 yards in the Terriers 49-24 win over Elon.
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