Sat, 28 Nov 2020

No. 25 Coastal Carolina debuts in Top 25 vs. Georgia Southern

Field Level Media
21 Oct 2020, 01:40 GMT+10

For No. 25 Coastal Carolina, one first preceded another.

A 30-27 Sun Belt Conference win on Oct. 14 at then-No. 21 Louisiana was the Chanticleers' first victory over a Top 25 foe since jumping into the FBS in 2017. Their reward came on Sunday when they jumped into the Associated Press' rankings for the first time.

Coastal Carolina plays its first game in the FBS era as a ranked team Saturday when it hosts conference foe Georgia Southern in Conway, S.C.

"It's something that's pretty special for our program and for our university being the first time ever," coach Jamey Chadwell said. "It's a big deal, but we're also realistic knowing that if we slip up one time, we'll probably never see it again.

"So I told our guys that if you want to stay there and continue to do something for this program, you have to keep winning. We've got good leaders, and I think we'll do a good job of keeping it in perspective."

The Chanticleers' ascent into the rankings is perhaps the biggest surprise of an already bizarre college football season. Coastal Carolina endured losing seasons in its first three FBS years, then turned the offense over to redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall.

All McCall has done in his first four games is complete 59 of 87 passes for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception. In the win at Louisiana, McCall was an efficient 17 of 24 for 202 yards and two scores with no picks.

It was the third time in four games that Coastal Carolina (4-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) won as an underdog. Its resume also includes a one-sided road victory over the Big 12's Kansas and a 52-23 rout of perennial bowl participant Arkansas State.

Georgia Southern (3-1, 1-1) will provide the Chanticleers with a difficult test. The Eagles are a 53-yard field goal away from possibly being a fringe Top 25 team, losing 20-18 at then-No. 19 Louisiana when the Ragin' Cajuns' Nate Snyder toed a career-long kick as time expired.

Last week, Georgia Southern enjoyed a 41-0 shutout of Massachusetts, which was playing its first game of the year. The Eagles raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back, getting three touchdown passes and 203 total yards (127 passing, 76 rushing) from senior quarterback Shai Werts.

"I was proud of our guys for playing a complete game," Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford said. "There are things that we have to clean up and get better at, but we finally played a good team game. Now it's time to reset and move on to the next one, because it will be a tough one."

Werts is the man to watch for the Eagles. His 2,660 career rushing yards are the most of any active FBS quarterback, and barring injury or other occurrence, he'll make his 40th career start this week.

Georgia Southern leads the all-time series 5-1, including a victory in a 30-27 triple-overtime thriller last year at home in Statesboro, Ga.

--Field Level Media

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