Sometimes, a lump-of-coal situation can produce a sparkling gem of an opportunity, as Coastal Carolina found out Thursday morning. It turns out that gem came in the color blue, sometimes in a royal hue.
And the gemstone’s name is BYU … or Brigham Young University, to be more formal. The BYU (9-0) at Coastal Carolina (9-0) matchup is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET and will air on ESPNU, and ESPN College Gameday will be on-site to preview the world of college football from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. It is sure to command interest among casual fans along with the college football betting lines universe.
BYU is No. 13 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, and Coastal Carolina is No. 18. Both are 9-0.
With 48 hours and change remaining before it was set to welcome a football game – and college football’s version of a gem, Coastal Carolina lost its opponent, Liberty, to COVID issues. ESPN College Gameday already planned to be in town for CCU-Liberty. The last-second void was filled with the Cougars, who formally announced the trip Thursday morning.
Midweek, the Chanticleers had quite the quandary on their hands. For the first time in the young FBS program’s lifetime, this opportunity had arisen to reach the national platform. And now COVID was going to keep Kirk Herbstreit and the Gameday crew from spotlighting the Chants?
The first chance to have college football’s monster-making show come to the campus, located about 10 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, and that blasted virus had ruined somebody’s day again?
But it may work out even better now.
BYU, featuring a legitimate Heisman candidate in junior QB Zach Wilson, had never bitten on an offer from Washington to add a late game. It has chosen to be picky. The Cougars’ AD Tom Holmoe even released a statement prior to Thanksgiving openly expressing interest in further scheduling, but it would be a game that fit BYU’s parameters.
If one reads between the lines: BYU wanted to see where it stood within the CFP Rankings and then determine what the course of action would be. In this year, when scheduling games comes in hour-by-hour fashion as opposed to announcements of some home-and-home deal in the year 2037, BYU knew it could be patient.
It worked out.
BYU’s equipment department even tweeted out a picture of its student managers “audibling” from not having travel plans this weekend to loading up the team truck to make the trek from Utah to South Carolina (how often does that happen, by the way?).
The truth is, this game looks much better on paper than many of the G5 bowl matchups during the postseason, many times pitting two conference champions against each other. And honestly, many of those kinds of bowl games have been canceled this year anyway. One can imagine that’s how the sportsbook casinos see it.
Coastal Carolina is a unique story itself, as it had entered this season having won only 13 total games since its move from the FCS to the FBS three years ago. Its last winning season was 10-2 in 2016 as an FCS Independent. The Chants had a very successful run in the FCS from 2012-15 under former coach Joe Moglia.
Current Chants’ coach Jamey Chadwell and his staff, many of whom were with him during a strong run at FCS Charleston Southern just a few years ago, have orchestrated quite the run in this virus-infested fall, making the best of a challenging situation.
The Chants opened the year beating P5 Kansas on the road by 15 points, the second straight year they’ve done that. They’ve already qualified for the Sun Belt Championship game on Dec. 19, also. It’ll be a rematch with Louisiana, who the Chants only beat by three points back on Oct. 14, easily their biggest challenge of 2020.
Most of BYU’s games have been blowouts, with only one exception — a seven-point win over UTSA on Oct. 10. BYU has the No. 4 scoring offense in the country at 47.6 per game while also featuring the No. 4 scoring defense (giving up only 13.9 apiece). The Chants are No. 13 in scoring defense, giving up only 16.8 per game, while the offense is No. 16, putting up 38.7 per game.
The numbers don’t lie … it should be a doozy. Both programs have proven to be powerhouses, with rare slipups, setting up a monster matchup with just hours of lead up. Viewership, social media buzz, and the online sports betting world should back that up.
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, PARADE Magazine and HERO Sports, and so many newspapers he lost count at “Hello.” Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter