After a resounding win against Presbyterian last week, the Owls travel to South Carolina to take on the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
With both teams having a 3-1 Big South Conference record, the winner of Saturday’s crucial matchup will share the best record in the conference with Liberty University.
A ninth overall win of the season for the Owls would also give the Football Championship Series playoff selection committee a big reason to choose KSU for an at-large playoff bid if the automatic spot goes to Liberty.
The Buccaneers come into the game with a 6-3 overall record and will also be trying to make a case for themselves as a playoff contender. Both teams will be under a great deal of pressure to prove worthy of the postseason.
So far, the Owls have been very impressive in their running game, averaging 335 total rushing yards per game, which is the third-highest total in the Football Championship Series. Not far behind are the Buccaneers, sixth in the nation with an average of 277 rushing yards per game.
Both teams come into Saturday’s game with high-scoring, quick-tempo offenses, with the Buccaneers having scored at least 35 points on six occasions and the Owls having done the same eight times.
Charleston Southern has proven itself to be a formidable opponent, having narrowly lost to five-time defending national champion North Dakota State University in overtime and defeating a strong Coastal Carolina University team 59-58 in double overtime.
The one certainty is that it will be the most important game of head coach Brian Bohannon’s time here, as well as for the players.
The Owls have had a number of players step up and become key to the team’s overall success. After the injury to redshirt senior quarterback Trey White at the beginning of the season, redshirt sophomore quarterback Chandler Burks has been a consistent force both on the ground and through the air.
Of the many running back options at coach Bohannon’s dispense, senior Chaston Bennett has been a spark plug for the offense. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Justin Sumpter’s physical presence and sure hands have been crucial to balancing the running game with the occasional deep pass.
On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt senior Dante Blackmon has six interceptions and has been the anchor of the pass defense.
The Owls will have to play at their best throughout the game. At times this season, the KSU offense has seemed impossible to defend against, but the reason behind this has as much to do with the mental aspects of the game as the physical.
Finishing games out has been the most important and consistent message Bohannon has sent throughout the season to his players. That mentality will be as important as ever against a good team and with a playoff berth at stake.
KSU is undefeated on the road this season and will need to win one more as it travels to South Carolina to take on Charleston Southern University on Saturday, Nov. 19.