So, the 21 conference games bring added significance this year. From the first Big South game on Oct. 2 (Presbyterian College at VMI) to the final three on Nov. 20, it will be fun to see what develops. Stony Brook and Liberty finished at the top of the Big South in 2009. Will their game in Lynchburg on Nov. 20 decide the playoff team? Or will another Big South squad go on a run and capture the berth?
We’re still a long way from all of that. For now, let’s just examine the 2010 Big South football slate.
Key Games on the Way to the Conference Title/Automatic Bid
All conference games are important, but – as of early April – these games appear to be the biggest to watch.
Oct. 9 – Liberty at Charleston Southern
Oct. 23 – Stony Brook at Coastal Carolina
Oct. 30 – Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern at Stony Brook
Nov. 6 – Gardner-Webb at Liberty
Nov. 20 – Stony Brook at Liberty
Best opportunity to upset an FBS team
Liberty at Ball State on Sept. 11 – This isn’t the Ball State team that went undefeated a couple seasons back. The Flames played well at West Virginia last season and should carry a stout team into this road game.
Toughest nonconference, non-FBS games
Tie, Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb – The Chanticleers have home dates against Georgia Southern and Delaware State in between road games at a pair of CAA teams – at Towson and at Richmond. The Runnin’ Bulldogs, meanwhile, open at home versus Division II Brevard but later host Western Carolina and then travel to Texas to play Sam Houston State. They also play Old Dominion – a tough second-year team – at home.
Big South vs. SoCon
There are four contests, this year, and three are home games for the Big South.
Sept. 11 – Wofford at Charleston Southern
Sept. 18 – Georgia Southern at Coastal Carolina, Western Carolina at Gardner-Webb, and Presbyterian College at The Citadel
Big South vs. the CAA
League teams play against Colonial Athletic squads five times. There are the two Coastal Carolina games – at Towson on Sept. 11 and at Richmond on Oct. 2. Liberty travels to James Madison on Sept. 25, Stony Brook hosts Massachusetts on Sept. 25, and VMI plays at William & Mary on Sept. 11.
Interesting nonconference, FCS match-ups
I like the rematch of Liberty and James Madison in Harrisonburg on Sept. 25. The Dukes won in Lynchburg last year.
Interesting nonconference, FBS match-ups
There are several games – 10, in fact – to choose from, but I find Presbyterian College at Clemson on Sept. 11 the most interesting. These teams haven’t played in a long, long time, but it’s the renewal of one of those old series from long ago when there weren’t so many distinctions between levels and you played teams a short bus ride or train trip away.
By the way, the Blue Hose are one of three Big South teams taking a double dip into the FBS pool. A week before the Clemson game, PC travels to Wake Forest. Charleston Southern travels to Hawaii and Kentucky while VMI plays at Virginia and at Army.
Charleston Southern at Hawaii on Sept. 25 – The Bucs’ game on the islands covers, well, a long distance. It’s the second time in four seasons Charleston Southern has ventured to Hawaii for a game.
The team that will be most tired on Nov. 20
Everybody has an open date pretty much in the middle of the season, so all Big South teams should be on relatively equal footing entering the last week.
Saving on gas
Presbyterian College should save a little money on travel this season. The Blue Hose get Liberty and Stony Brook at home, so their longest conference road trip is to Lexington, Va., to play VMI. Their other conference trips are to Charleston and the short ride to Boiling Springs, N.C. Out of conference, the trip to Winston-Salem for the season opener is not bad, and the game at Clemson a week later is less than two hours away.
On Oct. 9, there will be only two games involving Big South teams: Charleston Southern plays at Liberty and Stony Brook hosts VMI. Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian College all have the week off.
The Big South Conference schedule, week-by-week:
Presbyterian College at Wake Forest
Brevard at Gardner-Webb
Coastal Carolina at West Virginia
Lock Haven at VMI
North Greenville at Charleston Southern
St. Francis, PA at Liberty
Stony Brook at South Florida
Wofford at Charleston Southern
Coastal Carolina at Towson
Gardner-Webb at Akron
Liberty at Ball State
Presbyterian College at Clemson
American International at Stony Brook
VMI at William & Mary
Georgia Southern at Coastal Carolina
Liberty at Robert Morris
Mars Hill at Charleston Southern
Presbyterian College at The Citadel
Stony Brook at Brown
Western Carolina at Gardner-Webb
Open Date: VMI
Charleston Southern at Hawaii
Delaware State at Coastal Carolina
Gardner-Webb at Sam Houston State
Liberty at James Madison
Massachusetts at Stony Brook
North Greenville at Presbyterian College
VMI at Virginia
Coastal Carolina at Richmond
Gardner-Webb at Old Dominion
Presbyterian College at VMI #
Savannah State at Liberty
Open date: Charleston Southern, Stony Brook
Liberty at Charleston Southern #
VMI at Stony Brook #
Open date: Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian College
Coastal Carolina at Presbyterian College #
Gardner-Webb at Charleston Southern #
Liberty at VMI #
Stony Brook at Lafayette
Presbyterian College at Gardner-Webb #
Stony Brook at Coastal Carolina #
VMI at Charleston Southern #
Open date: Liberty
Charleston Southern at Stony Brook #
Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb #
Liberty at Presbyterian College #
VMI at Army
Charleston Southern at Kentucky
Coastal Carolina at VMI #
Gardner-Webb at Liberty #
Stony Brook at Presbyterian College #
Gardner-Webb at Stony Brook #
Liberty at Coastal Carolina #
Presbyterian College at Charleston Southern #
VMI at Old Dominion
Charleston Southern at Coastal Carolina #
Old Dominion at Presbyterian College
Stony Brook at Liberty #
VMI at Gardner-Webb #