CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - After a week of will they/won’t they, No. 14 Coastal Carolina will, in fact, be playing on Saturday. It’s just not against the opponent originally scheduled.
The Chanticleers will now take on No. 8 BYU, a switch made on nearly 60-hours notice after No. 25 Liberty reported COVID-19 issues Thursday morning. The game went from a renewed rivalry to a battle of unbeaten teams that could have massive postseason implications.
Add in the backdrop of “College GameDay” being on campus, and suddenly the game once thought uncertain is now likely the biggest moment in the school’s history.
No. 8 BYU at No. 14 Coastal Carolina
KICKOFF: 5:30 p.m.
RECORDS: BYU (9-0), CCU (9-0)
CFP RANK: BYU (13), CCU (18)
SHORT NOTICE: Obviously the biggest storyline heading into Saturday is that this is a matchup that was just made official a little over two days before kickoff.
While it’s an unprecedented turn of events, CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said his team is more than willing to adjust.
“One thing we try to do in our program is hey whatever happens,” he said Friday. “We’ll adjust to it and adapt and adjust and that’s one of the foundations of I think our whole athletic department, you find a way to adapt and adjust. Let’s go play, let’s get ready to get kicked off.”
RESUME BUILDERS: The Cougars last played Nov. 21, a 66-44 win over North Alabama, with their best win so far coming against then-ranked Boise State last month. The Chanticleers beat No. 25 Lousiana-Lafayette on the road in October, but will face the Ragin’ Cajuns again for the Sun Belt Conference Championship on Dec. 19.
Despite both teams being outside the top 10 of the College Football Playoff Rankings, the winner of Saturday’s game could go a long way toward making an argument toward earning a bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
COMMON FOE: BYU and CCU actually share a common opponent this season in Texas State. The Cougars defeated the Bobcats, 52-14, at home in October behind a four-touchdown day from quarterback Zach Wilson. CCU defeated Texas State on the road last week, primarily using the ground game in a 49-14 rout to clinch the Sun Belt East.
IN THE POCKET: Arguably the biggest matchup on Saturday can be seen under center. CCU freshman Grayson McCall has thrown for nearly 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns so far on the year.
Conversely, Wilson has generated Heisman buzz with one of the biggest statlines in the country. He’s thrown for over 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns - both rank within the top 10 in FBS. Like McCall, he’s rare to see mistakes, with just two interceptions on the season.
IN THE TRENCHES: Another thing to watch will be the battle between BYU’s offensive line and CCU’s “Black Swarm” defense. According to data from Pro Football Focus, BYU offensive tackle Brady Christensen has gone 197 straight snaps without allowing a quarterback hurry.
On the other side of the ball, CCU’s defense averages around 3.5 sacks per game, good enough for 11th in the country, led mainly by standouts Tarron Jackson, CJ Brewer, Silas Kelly and Teddy Gallagher in the box.
ON THE RUN: Despite all of the talk about quarterbacks, don’t discount either team’s ability to run the ball. Just last week, Coastal put up over 400 yards on the road at Texas State with a ground attack led mainly by CJ Marable. CCU also has other ways to hurt opponents on the ground, including with running backs Reese White and Shermari Jones. McCall has also been known to calls his own number, whether that be on scrambles or options plays, and tear off big chunks of yardage.
BYU can pound the ball as well, with Tyler Allgeier rushing for just under 1,000 yards on the season so far. 202-pound freshman Miles Davis can also be a threat for the Cougars, particularly in short-yardage situations.