Coastal Carolina

Chants proved they belong with the big boys, but they can’t forget where they came from

Coastal Carolina’s Anthony McAfee celebrates during the Chanticleers’ 38-28 win over Massachusetts on Saturday.
Coastal Carolina’s Anthony McAfee celebrates during the Chanticleers’ 38-28 win over Massachusetts on Saturday. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

The Coastal Carolina football team made school history Saturday, defeating Massachusetts 38-28 in its season opener, a victory that marked the Chanticleers’ first over a Football Bowl Subdivision team in eight tries.

The first seven attempts, however, came when Coastal was a Football Championship Subdivision school and the Chants were mostly overmatched.

Now a member of the Sun Belt Conference, it is expected that CCU defeats some FBS foes as it’s on the same playing field. Matchups against FCS schools are to be considered cake walks.

The expectations are now higher. The stakes are larger.

And next year, when the Chants’ transition to the FBS is totally complete and they are bowl eligible, the potential fruits of their labor will be grander.

That being said, Coastal now in some cases will serve as the big target for smaller schools.

Liberty, the Chants’ biggest all-time rival when it was in the FCS, proved on Saturday just how much FBS teams have to lose. The Flames went into Power 5-school Baylor’s house and knocked off the Bears 48-45. Howard, another FCS school and 45-point underdog Saturday, made history by knocking off FBS UNLV 43-40, a win that was the biggest point-spread upset in history.

Those produced the type of headlines no FBS school wants.

There have been arguments over the years that FBS teams – Power 5 schools even more so – should stop playing FCS schools. Yet, it seems every year – many times in Week 1 or Week 2 – there are a handful of upsets of historic proportions.

While Coastal was unable to pull off one of those monumental upsets while in the FCS ranks – its closest came in 2012 in a 38-28 loss to Toledo – the Chants were often in a grouping of the best FCS schools and therefore among the ones probably most favored to do so.

But now CCU finds itself in a similar position as a Toledo, an FBS school not in one of the nation’s biggest conferences.

That being said, Coastal interim head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell articulately put Saturday’s win into perspective.

“We put a lot of work into this and truthfully we really didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” he said. “We didn’t know if we were ready to make this jump. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and their effort.”

However, he acknowledged that this is only the beginning.

“It was great for us to get that first FBS win because … this university gave us the resources to help us reach this level and I’m thankful we can get that out of the way in the first game,” Chadwell said.

As if getting more FBS wins under their belt isn’t daunting enough, the Chanticleers will need to be wary of potential FCS upset seekers in the future.

After a bye this week and a road trip to UAB, CCU hosts its lone FCS opponent, Western Illinois, on Sept. 23. In coming years, the Chants have games scheduled with other FCS squads in Campbell (2018), Charleston Southern (2019) and The Citadel (2021).

You better believe the Leathernecks – and later those other FCS foes – will be eager to earn national headlines similar to those featuring Liberty and Howard over the weekend.

The Chanticleers proved in Week 1 they can play with the big boys.

But as they know as well as anyone, you can’t discount the little guys.

On tap

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans wrap up the regular season with a noon game at the Carolina Mudcats on Monday, and they start the Southern Division playoffs by heading to either Buies Creek or Down East for Games 1 and 2 on Wednesday and Thursday before wrapping up the best-of-five series at home either Friday (6:05 p.m.), Saturday (6:05 p.m.) or Sunday (6:05 p.m.). … In high school football, this week offers the following matchups: Aynor at Creek Bridge; Hoggard (N.C.) at Carolina Forest; Carvers Bay at North Myrtle Beach; Hartsville at Conway; Georgetown at Stratford; Loris at Green Sea Floyds; Myrtle Beach at Socastee; and St. James at Lake City. … The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team hosts Charlotte at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Radford at 7 p.m. Saturday. … The CCU women’s soccer team hosts Jacksonville at 6 p.m. Friday and plays at Georgia at 2 p.m. Sunday. … Coastal’s volleyball team hosts the Coastal Carolina Classic this weekend, with games against Notre Dame (7 p.m. Friday), Florida International (10 a.m. Saturday) and Ohio State (7:30 p.m. Saturday). … The PGA Tour is off this week before continuing the FedEx Cup playoffs with the BMW Championship Sept. 14-17. … The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN). … In tennis, the U.S. Open heads into its final week of play. … The NFL season gets underway with Kansas City playing at New England at 8:30 p.m. Thursday (NBC). The rest of the week’s action is either Sunday or Monday. … The South Carolina football team play at Missouri at 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2). … The Clemson football team hosts Auburn at 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).

David Wetzel: 843-626-0295, @MYBSports

CCU vs. FBS Opponents

Year

Opponent

Result

Score

2008

No. 22 Penn State

Loss

66-10

2009

Kent State

Loss

18-0

2009

Clemson

Loss

49-3

2010

No. 25 West Virginia

Loss

31-0

2011

Georgia

Loss

59-0

2012

Toledo

Loss

38-28

2013

No. 11 South Carolina

Loss

70-10

2017

*Massachusetts

Win

38-28

*Victory came in Coastal Carolina’s first year as FBS school.

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