COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough was relieved to get his first win of the season last week, but that feeling won't last long if his Bulldogs lose to Division II Benedict in the Palmetto Capital City Classic on Saturday in Columbia.
"We like to think we're a cut above them, like Clemson when we play them. But I don't know if there is that much space between Clemson and South Carolina State as there is between South Carolina State and Benedict," Pough said.
In other games Saturday involving South Carolina's Football Championship Subdivision teams, Coastal Carolina hosts Hampton; Charleston Southern travels to Norfolk State; Wofford hosts Gardner-Webb; and The Citadel travels to Old Dominion.
In Columbia, South Carolina State (1-2) is renewing its rivalry with Benedict (2-0). The two historically-black colleges have only played sporadically recently, with the Bulldogs handling their lower-division opponents easily. Pough is 4-0 against Benedict in his 12 years coaching South Carolina State, winning the games by an average of 42 points.
But the Tigers have a little more bite this year. They lead Division II in defense, allowing 129 yards a game. And Benedict coach James Woody wants his team to show no fear when they take the field at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"We're not intimidated at all," Woody said. "They put their pants on like we put our pants on. They have helmets, we have helmets. We're going to go out there on that field and see what happens."
Pough said South Carolina State will need a big game from senior receiver Tyler McDonald, who is on his way to setting several records. He needs just 18 catches and 390 receiving yards to break Oliver "Tre" Young's school records in each category set four years ago.
"We've been able to put together some plans that have given him a chance to really shine," Pough said. "Tyler is a fluid, shake-and-bake kind of guy who can make people miss."
In Conway, Coastal Carolina (3-0) will try to continue the best start in program history against Hampton (0-3).
The Chanticleers have five Big South Conference titles and three FCS playoff bids in 12 years of football, but they have never started a season 3-0. Going back to last season, Coastal Carolina has won nine of 10 games under second-year coach Joe Moglia with the only loss coming in the second round of last year's playoffs.
The Chanticleers have never played Hampton before. The Pirates' offense has struggled this season, averaging less than 11 points a game and gaining just 226 yards — the fifth worst in FCS.
"I know they are disappointed with the start they had, but we can't worry about that," Moglia said.
Coastal Carolina's offense is still humming. The Chanticleers are tops in the Big South, averaging 38 points and 458 yards a game so far this season.