Coastal Carolina Deserves More Recognition

Why punish an easy schedule when that team is detonating on said easy schedule?

Last year, Cincinnati made the headlines as a Group of Five team that maybe deserved a chance in the College Football Playoff. For awhile, BYU was in the same boat, running the table with its easy schedule that was put together at the last second after COVID took out its more difficult slate.

What stopped the Cougars from reaching the same highs as the Bearcats? A little team Conway, S.C. called Coastal Carolina, who took down BYU 22-17 in my favorite game of the 2020 season.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: What is this, The Outside Zone newsletter? But it is indeed thanks to Patrick that I got to watch this unbelievably fun team rise to go undefeated throughout the regular season before losing in overtime to Liberty.

That miracle season, led by head coach Jamey Chadwell, earned Coastal a preseason ranking, but only at No. 22. What have the Chanticleers done since then?

  • Win 52-14

  • Win 49-22

  • Win 28-25

  • Win 53-3

  • Win 59-6

  • Win 52-20

On the year, Coastal Carolina is averaging 48.8 points per game, second in the FBS, and is allowing 15.0 points per game, seventh in the FBS. That is the best scoring margin in the country at plus-33.8 points per game.

Chadwell has only improved on what was an electric offense last season, with the Chanticleers running what has to be the most efficient offense in the country, maybe outside of Ohio State.

But the Buckeyes average 8.55 yards per play, second in the FBS. Who’s No. 1? Coastal Carolina, with 8.82 yards per play.

This is much in thanks to quarterback Grayson McCall, who should, but likely won’t be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Through these six games, McCall has completed 79.8 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards, 14 touchdowns and one interception. He currently leads the country with a 234.3 quarterback efficiency rating.

Mac Jones broke both the completion percentage and efficiency rating single-season records last year on his way to leading Alabama to a national championship. Those numbers were 77.4 percent completion rate and a 203.1 efficiency rating.

What McCall is doing this season is historic, and deserves more recognition than it has received. He is also a very capable runner, but has been so strong passing the ball that he has just 79 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. McCall has also been helped by running back Reese White, who has 59 carries for 455 yards (7.7 per carry) and seven touchdowns on the season.

Who has been the largest help though are McCall’s top two targets: wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh and tight end Isaiah Likely. Heiligh has 29 catches for 573 yards and four touchdowns, while Likely is right behind with 27 catches for 513 yards, but doubles the scores with eight. These two are perfect for Chadwell’s offense, and Likely is (sorry) likely to hear his name called in the NFL draft next offseason.

How about the defense? Well, it allows 270.2 yards per game (seventh in FBS) and has a respectable 17 sacks on the season (23rd in FBS). The only thing it doesn’t do is turn teams over, with just two takeaways all year. But, because the offense is so impressive, the Chanticleers still only have a turnover margin of minus-1.

After all this ass kicking, and in one of the most hectic starts to a college football season in awhile, Coastal has moved up just seven spots to No. 15. Why?

The reason is an obvious one: strength of schedule. Coastal Carolina is not only playing a weak schedule, it is playing the weakest schedule in the FBS, according to ESPN. I get why that would scare pollsters away from moving it too high, but I disagree.

If Coastal was 6-0 with this schedule, but was consistently winning games close, I would understand this ranking. But this team, minus a scare against Buffalo, is putting these teams in the dirt and sitting on that lead for most of its second halves.

A team can only do what it can with the schedule it has, and this schedule has likely been in place for many years knowing how college football scheduling goes. It also goes two ways here, as the Chanticleers can’t simply ask Alabama or Clemson to play them every year.

This team, even with a very easy schedule, has proven that it is one of the best in college football. It will get a real chance to prove that against Appalachian State this upcoming Wednesday, but even that has already taken a hit with the Mountaineers falling to Louisiana.

I know Coastal Carolina can’t make the playoff, and it might be extreme to think that it deserves that chance. But I have watched this team, and I want to watch this team get the big stage that it absolutely and 100 percent deserves, playoff or not.

The Top 25

Well, I’ve buttered you up for it. After another crazy week in college football, here is my Top 25:

1.) Georgia (-)

2.) Cincinnati (+1)

3.) Iowa (+1)

4.) Coastal Carolina (+2)

5.) Michigan (+2)

6.) Ohio State (+4)

7.) Michigan State (+5)

8.) Oklahoma (+3)

9.) Alabama (-5)

10.) Oregon (-1)

11.) Penn State (-6)

12.) Kentucky (+2)

13.) Wake Forest (-)

14.) Oklahoma State (+1)

15.) Ole Miss (+3)

16.) Notre Dame (+1)

17.) SMU (+2)

18.) BYU (-10)

19.) San Diego State (+2)

20.) UTSA (+2)

21.) Arizona State (+2)

22.) Texas A&M (NEW)

23.) NC State (+1)

24.) Baylor (NEW)

25.) Arkansas (-9)

  • The top three is easy for me. Georgia is now the clear-cut No. 1 team after Alabama’s loss, Cincinnati has looked good all year, and Iowa beats Penn State because it has traded its soul for one year of the luckiest football you will ever see. Kirk Ferentz’s blood rituals are working, because this team has no business being here with this abhorrent offense, and yet I have no choice. An upset against this team has to be brewing, it has to be.

  • And here’s the kicker: No. 4 Coastal Carolina. You can be mad about this, I understand, but no team below them has earned this spot. The Chanticleers go out and destroy whichever opponent is in their way, and not many teams are doing that this year.

  • I think Ohio State is a better team than Michigan (or Iowa, or Coastal) right now, but the loss to Oregon has to factor in somewhere. But, credit to the Buckeyes for this turnaround. They look like a playoff team, and C.J. Stroud is my current pick for the Heisman.

  • Again, Michigan State probably is not the seventh-best team in college football, but here we are. Let me give a shoutout to Kenneth Walker III and Jalen Nailor, who are both far too cool to be on a Sparty team. Curious to see how long this momentum lasts for.

  • Oklahoma has not earned my respect, because this was a bad football team under Spencer Rattler. If Caleb Williams really is the starter moving forward (shoutout the OU Daily for terrific reporting), the Sooners might finally shoot up my rankings.

  • Alabama lost to a bad team, but has strong enough other wins to stay in the top 10 for now. Penn State would have won with Sean Clifford in, so the Nittany Lions remain relatively high.

  • Shoutout Kentucky man, what a pair of statement victories. The Wildcats could have come down from the high of the Florida upset, but instead rode that momentum to a thumping of LSU. Ed Orgeron pack is going up.

  • I have only myself to blame for BYU’s demise. I finally adjusted my rankings for the Cougars last week, and they abandon me by falling to a lackluster Boise State team. My bad.

  • UTSA won an absolute banger against Western Kentucky to remain undefeated. The Roadrunners deserve much more respect than they are getting.

  • Yeah, I think Texas A&M is probably not great. But the Aggies beat Alabama, so they get in to the poll.

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