By Paul T. Choate
Sept. 28, 2012. Two of the Carolinas’ best NCAA Division I football programs of the millennium will square off Saturday when the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-2, 0-0) come to The Rock to take on the No. 17/16 Appalachian State Mountaineers (2-2, 1-1).
Since 2000, ASU is North Carolina and South Carolina’s winningest Division I football program, with a 121-42 record overall. The Chanticleers of Conway, S.C., are not far behind, with a 65-41 record since the program’s inception in 2003, good for sixth best in the Carolinas.
This is the third matchup between ASU and CCU, with both of the previous two taking place at Kidd Brewer Stadium and resulting in ASU wins by large margins. ASU first played CCU on Sept. 17, 2005, and routed them 30-3. The second and most recent matchup between the two programs came in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Nov. 25, 2006, where the Mountaineers again blew out the Chanticleers 45-28.
The Mountaineers are coming off a big come-from-behind win against the Chattanooga Mocs in Chattanooga, Tenn., last Saturday, where they won 34-17 after trailing 10-0 early in the game. An ASU win this coming Saturday would put the team over .500 for the first time this season. A loss, however, would drop them below .500 at the latest point in a season since the team was 2-3 back in 2003.
For CCU, they are trying to bounce back from two straight losses by wide margins to Eastern Kentucky at home and Toledo on the road. The Chanticleers’ season started off promising, opening with victories over North Carolina A&T and then Furman in a triple overtime thriller. They will be looking to claim their first victory at The Rock and get over .500 for the first time since the Furman win.
Look for offense, and in particular passing offense, to be a focal point of Saturday’s game. Both teams are in the top 30 nationally in passing yards per game, with CCU throwing for 288.8 yards per game (16th) and ASU for 248.0 yards per game (28th). Additionally, both teams are in the top 40 nationally in total yards per game, with ASU at 413.5 yards per game (30th) and CCU at 403.0 yards per game (36th).
The scoring edge slightly favors CCU, averaging 30.3 points per game to ASU’s 27.5 points per game. One interesting stat that should be noted, however, is that the two teams are dead even in points allowed per game at 32.8.
If scoring slightly favors CCU, then history overwhelmingly favors ASU. In addition to the Chanticleers never defeating the Mountaineers, ASU has an overall record of 41-15-2 against current members of the Big South Conference and currently holds a 15-game winning streak over Big South teams. The last time a Big South school defeated the Mountaineers was well over a decade ago, when Liberty defeated ASU 25-19 on Nov. 22, 1997.
Also, the Mountaineers have won 20 of their last 21 regular season non-conference home games and 62 of their last 68 home games overall.
Look for an exciting, high-scoring, pass-first style matchup on Saturday between these two programs. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium.