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Preview, How to Watch: Citadel begins fall slate on the road at USF

In the first of its four games this fall, the Citadel will open the 2020 season at USF.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 USF at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back in early August, it seemed unlikely that the Citadel was going to play football this fall. And that seemed like a real shame, because the world could always use more triple-option offenses, and the Bulldogs have been plucky and prone to surprise when facing FBS teams — just ask Georgia Tech.

For the Military College of South Carolina, the season started with 34 players skipping fall camp and B-Back Alex Ramsey — the SoCon’s leading rusher in 2019 — opting out. A week later, the Southern Conference announced it was suspending its fall sports seasons and was aiming to play football in the spring. VMI decided to follow the conference’s lead, but the Citadel wanted to explore something that the conference was allowing: member institutions could play up to four non-conference games this fall.

The Bulldogs jumped at that opportunity and scheduled road games against three FBS sides, and one home game against fellow FCS school Eastern Kentucky. The Citadel is one of 15 FCS schools that will play this fall.

And first up for them is USF.

Playing in the AAC with Navy, the Bulls are no stranger to the triple-option, and USF’s staff is familiar with the Citadel. Bulls’ head coach Jeff Scott coached against the Bulldogs three times when he was an assistant at Clemson and his father, USF chief of staff Brad Scott, was an assistant at the Citadel in 1981.

Can the Bulldogs beat an FBS team on the road for the second straight season? We’ll see.

The Basics

Kickoff: 7 p.m. EST

Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida

Watch: ESPNU | Lincoln Rose and Stanford Routt will have the call.

Spread: Most sports books have USF favored by about 20.5 points.

Last Meeting

The Bulls and Bulldogs have met twice before, playing a home-and-home series in 1997 and 1998. Each team won on its home turf. In fact, in 1997, the Citadel gave USF its first ever loss in football, winning 10-7 in Charleston in front of about 12,000 fans. USF won the next year by a much bigger margin, 45-6.

USF and the Citadel shared one common opponent last season in Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs won in Atlanta in a historic upset, 27-24. Before that day, the Bulldogs were 0-22 against ACC teams. The Bulls lost to the Yellow Jackets, 14-10.

By The Numbers

Bulldogs - Bulls

The Citadel VS. USF
The Citadel VS. USF
Brent Thompson Head Coach Jeff Scott
6-6 2019 record 4-8
268.2 Rushing YPG 161.5
99.6 Passing YPG 169.6
28.8 Points Per-Game 20.8
374.2 Yards Allowed Per-Game 369.2
minus-3 Turnover Margin plus-5

Players To Watch

Willie Eubanks III, LB, Senior — The Citadel

Pound for pound, Eubanks — the 2019 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year — is probably the best football player on the Bulldogs’ roster and is quickly becoming a pro prospect. He was named an AP First Team All-American after last season, in which he tallied 112 tackles, and has been tabbed as a preseason All-American this year by multiple outlets. In addition to racking up the bone-crushing tackles, Eubanks was a play-maker on defense too, notching 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception, four pass break-ups and 11 quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-2 native of Augusta, Georgia was everywhere for the Bulldogs and should continue to impact the game in a big way as a senior.

Jordan McCloud, QB, RS Sophomore — USF

According to multiple reports, including SB Nation’s The Daily Stampede, McCloud will be the starter under-center for the Bulls on Saturday. He played often last season, totaling 16 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards of total offense in 12 appearances, 10 of which were starts. McCloud is expected to be better this season, but was erratic at times a year ago, tossing eight interceptions. Still, he proved he could sling it effectively too, tossing three passing touchdowns in a single game twice. To pull off an upset Saturday, the Bulldogs will have to bottle up and frustrate McCloud.

They Said It

Citadel head coach Brent Thompson: “We’ve showed a lot of progress. We’re not where we need to be yet, but the offense has moved the ball, and the defense is flying around.”

USF head coach Jeff Scott: “These guys got us this week and then turn around and play Clemson next week so they’re trying to wreck some dreams and have fun. When you can play free and play loose, like I’m sure they will on Saturday night, [you] definitely need to be focused and be ready.”