CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues the 2017 season this weekend as CSU travels to Memorial Stadium and Indiana University on Saturday, October 7th. In preparation for the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the Big Ten Network, here are three things to watch for in Saturday's contest.
SECOND FBS OPPONENT IN 2017
When the Buccaneers take the field on Saturday afternoon, it will be the second time the Bucs will have faced off against a Power 5 opponent this season. In fact, it is only the second time in program history that CSU has lined up against multiple Power 5 opponents in the same year. CSU previously took on the SEC's Vanderbilt and Georgia in the 2014 season, falling on the road to both teams. This is also the second time the Bucs have added an FBS opponent midseason after previously adding a game at Colorado in the 2013 season.
The Buccaneers' offense struggled in the road opener in 2017 against the Bulldogs, as CSU was limited to 33 total yards (15 passing, 18 rushing). Mississippi State held a 29-2 advantage in first downs, a 555-33 advantage in yards, and a 32:25-27:35 advantage in time of possession in recording the 49-0 win. CSU fell to 0-19 against FBS competition in program history dating back to their first game against South Florida in the 1997 season.
For the Bucs to have a chance in their second FBS game this season, CSU will look to follow the game plan that nearly led to CSU's success in 2014 against Vanderbilt. The Commodores held off a late CSU challenge in recording the 21-20 win over the Bucs on October 11, thanks to an 18-point second quarter.
The Bucs shut out Vanderbilt in the second half and held the Commodores without a first down after halftime until their final drive of the night. A 30-yard field goal by freshman kicker David Kennedy brought CSU within 21-20 with 10:19 remaining, and the Bucs had the football with a chance to take the lead following a Davion Anderson interception. Vanderbilt forced a three-and-out, though, and ran out the final six minutes of game clock to hold on for the victory.
CSU trailed 18-3 late in the first half but swung the momentum of the game on a blocked punt by sophomore Larenzo Mathis. Mathis blocked the punt and returned it 17 yards for a score to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 18-10. The Commodores pushed their advantage to 21-10 at intermission but were outplayed in the second half. CSU's ten-play, 78-yard touchdown drive trimmed the deficit to 21-17 at the 5:56 mark of the third quarter, as two big Colton Korn catches set up a Zac Frazier 10-yard touchdown run. The Bucs moved the ball inside the Vanderbilt 30-yard line two more times, but could only come away with three points.
CSU will also look to overcome what happened in the Bucs' first trip to the Big Ten. The Bucs fell to host Illinois in the 2012 season, 44-0, behind a five-touchdown day by quarterback Reilly O'Toole. Overall CSU is 0-6 against the SEC, 0-2 against the ACC, 0-1 against the Big Ten, and 0-1 against Pac 12. The Bucs have not taken on an opponent from the Big 12 Conference.
NEW STARTING QUARTERBACK AGAINST TOP FCS DEFENSE
Redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey will be making his first collegiate start this weekend as the Cincinnati, Ohio native was named the starting quarterback moving forward. Despite not yet starting a game, Ramsey has seen significant action in all four contests this season. He has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 316 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, while also rushing for 117 yards and a TD. The Cincinnati native completed 16-of-20 passes in the Virginia win on Sept. 9, as his 80-percent completion percentage was the second-highest clip in a single game for an IU quarterback.
Ramsey redshirted his 2016 season but made a significant impact on the roster as the Elder High School native was named the IU offensive scout team player of the year. He was a five-time scout team player of the week after helping the team in its weekly preparations for FIU, Michigan State, Maryland, Michigan, and Purdue.
The Bucs' defense was gashed for 274 passing yards by Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald and company in the opening contest, but CSU bounced back to reclaim their title as one of the FCS' premier pass defenses over the last three weeks. The Bucs limited Elon to 145 yards through the air and forced a pair of interceptions. In the following weekend against Point, the Bucs held the Skyhawks to just 37 yards through the air and 98 yards' total offense in the game.
CSU surrendered their first 300-yard passing game since the 2013 season this past weekend against Mississippi Valley State ending a stretch of 47 consecutive games the Bucs held an opponent under 300 yards through the air. North Greenville in the 2013 season was the last game CSU surrendered 300 yards in the passing game with the Bucs allowing the Crusaders 334 yards through the air in the 28-14 win.
The contest against North Greenville was also the last time the Bucs surrendered back-to-back 300-yard passing games as Appalachian State finished with 302 yards through the air on September 28.
Part of CSU's resurgence has been the strong play up front on the defensive line. Senior defensive end Anthony Ellis has totaled 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss over the last two games, while junior tackle Johnny Robinson has three sacks, including the first multi-sack effort of his career this weekend against Mississippi Valley State.
The Bucs recorded a school-record nine sacks in the contest to sit tied for the national lead with 17 on the season, while also sitting second overall with 4.25 sacks per game.
BIG GAME SPOTLIGHT NO ISSUE FOR BROWN
Redshirt sophomore Kameron Brown has been the big-play, go-to wide receiver for Charleston Southern since he first lined up for the Bucs last season in the opener against North Dakota State. Brown parlayed a three-catch, 57-yard performance on the road against the Bison in earning Big South Freshman of the Week honors to jumpstart his career with the Bucs.
The Beech Island, S.C. native continued to impress with a season-high 80 yards and a touchdown on the road against Florida State and then added at least 50 receiving yards in six different games to pace the mostly run-heavy Buccaneers' offense. Brown added his first collegiate multi-touchdown game on the season with five catches for 67 yards and a pair of scores in the Bucs' 49-28 win over Bucknell. Brown finished fifth in the NCAA and led the Big South with 20.00 yards per reception on his way to earning All-Conference Second Team honors.
After receiving Preseason All-Conference honors in 2017, Brown has again been difficult to contain on the field as the 6-3 athlete leads the Bucs with nine catches for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brown is currently ninth in the Big South in all-purpose yards per game (73.3), third in receiving yards per game, first in yards per catch (24.4), and third in touchdowns (2).
Brown recorded his first collegiate 100-yard receiving effort two weeks ago against Point as he connected with redshirt sophomore quarterback Shane Bucenell for six catches, 113 yards, and a score against the Skyhawks. He followed up by hauling in both Bucenell's completions against MVSU, recording 101 yards and a touchdown. Brown's 87-yard touchdown reception from Bucenell was the third-longest connection in CSU history.
The back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts were the first time a CSU wide receiver recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Gerald Stevenson accomplished the task in 2010 against VMI (129) and Stony Brook (104). Brown and Bucenell will look to continue their success against a pass defense allowing 331.0 yards through the air for the season.