There are probably few people - if any - who think Coastal Carolina has a chance to beat South Carolina in each teams’ college football opener Saturday.
And that makes plenty of sense.
However, I believe the Chanticleers have an opportunity to come out of this game with reason for optimism if, only if, they can do this one thing: cover the spread.
The Gamecocks are nearly 30-point favorites (most spreads I’ve seen are 29 1/2). That’s more than four touchdowns. Yes, FOUR touchdowns.
That’s generally a lot for a game featuring two Football Bowl Subdivision teams, especially when the favorite isn’t an Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State. I expect South Carolina to be good this year, but it is not on those teams’ level right now.
While I can’t picture CCU coach Joe Moglia standing there at practice right now merely hoping his team is competitive, I think it’s realistic that the Chants can show significant progress in their second season in the FBS by making Saturday’s score respectable. But of course, Moglia and Co. are instead entering the game with plans to pull off one of the biggest Week 1 upsets of 2018, and that is the right attitude to enter any game with.
“Everybody wants to win. We know that, we understand that,” Moglia told The Sun News. “But you can’t necessarily control winning because you can’t necessarily control the other team. The one thing you can control is what you do and how you do it.”
Again, though, winning is a highly unlikely scenario for a squad that struggled to a 3-9 mark last season and is still in transition to the FBS. But it’s no fault of Coastal, as any team moving up from the Football Championship Subdivision has - or will have - these bumps and bruises along the way.
That being said, playing games like these should help long term.
““. . . Our guys are going to be well aware there are going to be 91,000 people in the stadium, our guys are well aware that they’re good, our guys are well aware of all those things,” Moglia said. “I don’t have to go out of my way to point those out. But we’re in control of at least what we do and that’s going to be our emphasis.”
Therefore, as much as coaches hate “moral victories,” a good showing by CCU this week (which I consider being a cover) would be a small step and one that could pay dividends moving forward.
At some point, the Chants will have that moment where they introduce themselves to the FBS stage in a big way. Heck, it didn’t take them long to do that as an upstart program in the FCS years ago (one that comes to mind is knocking off No. 1 James Madison). And before we knew it, Coastal was a perennial playoff contender that held the No. 1 national ranking.
This is a program that has shown rapid growth. I mean, who would have thought the Chants would be in the FBS by now? It seems like this all happened overnight.
To put this game into perspective, Coastal has shown some progress in games against some of its biggest FBS opponents over the years. Remember the 66-10 loss to Penn State in 2008? Then a 49-6 loss to Clemson the following year? Well, how about a 39-38 heartbreaking loss against Arkansas a year ago?
Last year’s game against the Razorbacks is proof that anything is possible. And perhaps the Chants will shock the world this week.
Good for them if they do. However, it’s also possible they go into the game and get blown out.
For this guy, losing by four touchdowns or less would be enough to show the progress the program needs.
Anything more is icing on the cake.
David Wetzel: @MYBSports, 843-626-0295