No. 17 Coastal Carolina has won by an average of over 30 points in its first two games.
It’s unlikely that number will rise after Saturday’s game.
The Chanticleers travel to Alabama to take on the No. 4-ranked Jacksonville State Gamecocks at 2 p.m. ET, and Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia said it’s the toughest game on his team’s schedule.
“Jacksonville State is one of the top four FCS programs in the country and they have been over the past couple of years,” said Moglia, who is 43-13 in his fifth season at the school. “One of the reasons to come (to Coastal Carolina) is to get the opportunity to play a game like this.”
Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson – who is the school’s all-time leading scorer after last week’s performance – is looking to keep rolling as his NCAA Division I record of 28 straight games with at least one touchdown will be on the line.
But it’s a tall task as Jacksonville State – which lost to North Dakota State in the FCS championship game last year – is one of the top teams at the FCS level, no matter how easy Henderson makes it look when he’s on the field.
“We know the magnitude of this game. They played for (an FCS) national championship last season and that is something we never got a chance to do,” said Henderson, also Coastal Carolina’s all-time rushing touchdown leader. “They have been nationally ranked right along with us over the past couple of years. The competition should be very high.”
When it comes down to it, Henderson wouldn’t mind trading the streak for a victory.
“At the end of the day, our season is bigger than the streak,” he said. “So regardless if the streak does end, if we come out with a win – that’s all we want to do. If they stop it, OK. As long as we get a win.”
The Gamecocks and head coach John Grass will do their best to ensure that doesn’t happen, and Jacksonville State does have home-field advantage.
“[Coastal Carolina has] that talent pool, they’re athletic, they do a great job of coaching, and it’s going to be quite a task,” he said. “I’m glad we don’t have to go up there and they’ve got to come to us, that’s for sure.”
And Grass knows not to take the Chants lightly – especially as Jacksonville State comes in fresh off a loss to FBS opponent LSU.
“Coastal Carolina, basically they are an FBS team now. They’ve moved up, they disqualified themselves from the playoffs this year because they moved up on their scholarship count, and they’ve been a 10-win plus team in FCS the last three or four years,” Grass said. “They’ve been nationally ranked every year and now they have more scholarships so it’s like playing an FBS mid-major, you’re basically playing somebody from the Sun Belt, that’s the conference they’re going into. They’re that caliber of a team, they’re very talented, so there’s no rest for the weary.
“You go from playing an SEC team to another FBS team, but at least we have them at home. I feel good about playing them at home. The good thing about this past weekend if there was anything good is we came out fairly healthy out of that physical of a game.”
Without that ability to earn Big South conference honors or have postseason eligibility, Henderson said every game is a big stage for Coastal Carolina.
“We know we can’t go to the postseason, so every game is a national championship game for us,” Henderson said. “Everybody knows this is a big game. We need to go out and make big-time plays. … If this doesn’t bring out the best of everybody on the team then I don’t know what will.”