The Citadel Bulldogs (7-3, 6-1) will travel within the Palmetto State as they face the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-7, 1-7) in a non-conference matchup Saturday afternoon. South Carolina won the only matchup with a 49-20 win at home on November 19, 2011; The Citadel covered the line in that game as a 39.5 point underdog.
The Citadel had their five game win streak snapped with a 31-23 loss on the road to #8 Chattanooga Saturday. South Carolina has dropped three straight after falling 24-14 to #11 Florida at home Saturday. Kickoff from Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET and will be televised on the SEC Network. There is no point spread or over/under set for this contest due to the difference of a FCS and FBS opponent.
The Citadel fell behind 21-0 at the half and their second half rally fell short in the contest. The Bulldogs were outgained 489-389 in the contest despite winning the first down battle 22-19 and the time of possession battle 31:43 to 28:17. The Citadel converted only 3 of 5 red zone chances while Chattanooga was 3 of 4 on those opportunities. Both teams committed one turnover in the game but Chattanooga had the game well in hand before The Citadel scored nine points in the final 3:07 to make the final score closer.
The Bulldogs are a run first team as they average only 82.7 yards per game through the air compared to an output of 343.7 yards per game on the ground per contest. The Citadel puts up 33 points per game while allowing an average of 20.9 points per contest. Dominique Allen is the starter at quarterback; he’s hit 42 of 81 passes for 734 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for a team high 692 yards and 11 scores. It’s a five headed monster in the run game for the Bulldogs as Cam Jackson (66 carries, 519 yards, 4 TD), Isiaha Smith (86 carries, 514 yards, 7 TD), Tyler Renew (93 carries, 478 yards, 2 TD), Evan McField (72 carries, 416 yards, 3 TD) and Vinny Miller (58 carries, 403 yards, TD) are all very capable running the ball. In the passing game, only Brandon Eakins (11 receptions, 197 yards, 2 TD) and Jorian Jordan (11 grabs, 192 yards, TD) have more than six receptions. Eric Goins has hit all 35 extra point attempts and 11 of 13 field goal tries with a long of 45 yards; Austin Jordan is 2 of 3 on extra points and hasn’t attempted a field goal.
South Carolina was down 17-0 after three quarters and their fourth quarter attempt at a rally fell short. After cutting the deficit to 17-14 with 4:49 to play, the Gamecocks allowed the Gators to cover 75 yards in six plays to punch in an insurance touchdown with 2:01 to play. South Carolina was outgained 404-201 in the contest while losing the first down battle 20-13 and allowing Florida to dominate time of possession as they held the ball for 39:56 while the Gamecocks had it for just 20:04 in the loss.
The Gamecocks haven’t done a ton offensively as they are 102nd in the nation in passing offense (190.2 yards) and tied for 82nd in rushing offense (160.3 yards) per game this season. South Carolina is tied for 112th in the nation in scoring offense as they are scoring 21 points per game while ranking 67th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 27 points per contest. Four quarterbacks have seen action for South Carolina on the year and they’ve struggled; the quartet has completed 53.6 percent of their throws for 1,902 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Perry Orth has seen the most reps under center; he’s hit 102 of 190 passes for 1,343 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Lorenzo Nunez is the team’s second leading rusher despite playing part-time as a quarterback; he has 300 yards and two scores. Shon Carson is part of the rotation in the backfield with 42 carries for 218 yards plus a score; Brandon Wilds (104 carries, team high 519 yards, 2 TD) and David Williams (76 carries, 276 yards) are sharing the load. Pharoh Cooper leads the Gamecocks with 51 receptions for 696 yards and six touchdowns; Jerell Adams (22 catches, 316 yards, 3 TD), Wilds (14 grabs out of the backfield) and Williams (10 catches out of the backfield) are the only other players with more than 10 catches on the year. Elliott Fry has booted all 21 extra points and 16 of 23 field goal attempts on the year; he’s 2 of 4 from beyond 50 yards with a long of 52.
The Citadel has played excellent football at the FCS level and the Gamecocks will have trouble containing the Bulldogs run game. Still, even with a disappointing season for South Carolina, they have to be considered the favorite in this one. I wouldn’t give a ton of points if I was taking South Carolina here but if the line was 12 to 14 points, I’d be okay with the Gamecocks; anything more and you’d have to lean toward The Citadel.