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Presbyterian finally gets to host Furman again

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Presbyterian has been waiting for this chance for nearly four decades.

The Blue Hose (1-2) get to host Furman (0-3) for the first time since 1975. The teams have played 16 times since they last met in Clinton, and the Paladins are 14-1-1 in those games in Greenville, including winning the last 13 in a row.

Coach Harold Nichols said Blue Hose fans can't wait for Saturday to come so they host their rivals, who play just 45 miles up the road, for just the ninth time in 53 meetings.

"It will be a great opportunity for us to play them at home," Nichols said. "There is a lot of excitement around the game."

In other games Saturday involving South Carolina's Football Championship Subdivision teams, Charleston Southern travels to Shorter; The Citadel is at North Carolina State; Coastal Carolina travels to Toledo; and South Carolina State is at Texas A&M.

In Clinton, Nichols is still trying to figure out the identity of his Presbyterian team They opened with a Division II school, then headed off for big paydays and big losses to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

"It's difficult playing these first three ball games. You play Brevard and Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt and you still don't quite know where you are at as a football team," Nichols said.

Furman has had a rough start, too. The Paladins lost their opening three games for the first time since 1979 and they have never been able to bounce back for a winning record the other eight times it has happened.

But it isn't time to panic. Furman coach Bruce Fowler said there is plenty of time to turn it around, especially if a defense that is ranked 90th out of 121 FCS teams allowing nearly 423 yards a game can improve.

"We've got to become more consistent. We've got to work on those areas defensively, where we are giving up some big plays — we've got to eliminate that and make people earn their points a little bit better," Fowler said.

In Rome, Ga., Charleston Southern (0-3) will make a little history as it plays Division II Shorter (2-1).

The Hawks have never hosted a Division I team before. And on paper, it would appear to be one of the best chances the Buccaneers may have this season to end the nation's longest Division I losing streak, which is at 16 games.

Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills said he has seen a lot of improvement in his team since the start of the season, noting the Buccaneers defense had more tackles for loss than the Illinois defense in last week's 41-0 loss.

"We're not having the consistency we need to have offensively. We're close in a lot of ways," Mills said.

Charleston Southern is playing the game at Shorter as a favor to the school. Both universities are Baptist-affiliated and several Shorter administrators came to the school from Charleston Southern.

In Raleigh, N.C., The Citadel (3-0) will again try to stun the world against North Carolina State (2-1).

The Bulldogs shocked plenty of people by beating Southern Conference foes Georgia Southern and Appalachian State in back-to-back weeks. But the FBS Wolfpack may be the biggest challenge of all.

Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said his team hasn't let all the good things said about them over the past few weeks go to their heads because they haven't heard them.

"One of the nice things about being at The Citadel is you have enough challenges within the gates itself that the noise from the outside doesn't reach," Higgins said.

In Toledo, Ohio, Coastal Carolina (2-1) is taking the longest trip in the program's history to play FBS opponent Toledo (2-1).

The Chanticleers haven't beaten one of college football's big boys in five tries, but what better time than 2012 when the program is going through a series of transitions under first-year coach and billionaire businessman Joe Moglia?

Moglia noted the Rockets have struggled some on defense, allowing 500 yards a game to rank 113th out of 120 FBS teams. But he also said they clamp down when opponents get close to the end zone and are allowing only 23 points a game.

"They are a big, strong physical team that moves well. We are going to have our work cut out for us," Moglia said.

In College Station, Texas, South Carolina State (1-2) finishes a two-week western swing against Texas A&M (1-1).

The Bulldogs lost 56-0 to No. 22 Arizona last week and South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough said his team was overwhelmed from the start. He admitted he wasn't sure what to expect taking on a second FBS team in a row.

"We've got our work cut out for us again," Pough said. "It will be interesting to see how our kids react."


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