The Citadel vs. Coastal Carolina Odds & Picks: Bet Bulldogs to Cover Large Spread (Thursday, Sept. 2)
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The Citadel vs. Coastal Carolina Odds
Coastal Carolina was one of the most profitable teams in all of college football in 2020. The Chanticleers finished the 2020 season with one close postseason loss to Liberty and two regular-season, ranked wins over Louisiana and BYU.
They won all but two games by double digits and nearly snuck their way into a New Year's Six bowl. Coastal opens its 2021 campaign with FCS triple-option foe The Citadel at home on Thursday night.
The Citadel had a strange 2020-21 season that included four fall games against South Florida, Clemson, Eastern Kentucky and Army. Then, it played an eight-game SOCON schedule in the spring from February-April.
It's not really clear if the FCS teams that played in the spring will have any type of advantage because they've played more recently.
While Coastal hasn't played since December, the Bulldogs have played eight games since then. There was less time off for the players to rest and recover, but there's less concern over rust for a team that was playing and winning games much more recently than Coastal was.
COVID-19 cases and opt-outs decimated this roster in 2020, and they should be improved this year solely by having more players available.
They had as few as 38 available players entering games last season, and head coach Brett Thompson said they have 123 this fall. With more depth, they should be able to compete more with FBS teams and the rest of the SOCON.
Breaking down the Bulldogs offense is pretty simple, as they run a triple-option style that can be difficult for teams that aren't used to seeing it. They're led by returning quarterback Jaylan Adams, a cornerback who played QB for the first time since high school as a sophomore last year out of necessity.
He had a full offseason to prepare as the team's quarterback and created sustainable offense on the ground in his first year at quarterback.
The Bulldogs' defense was really terrible early in their FCS season but made significant improvements in the final three games of the spring season. They were somewhat competitive with South Florida and Army in the fall schedule, shut out Clemson in the second half after allowing 49 points in the first half and then won 2-of-3 to end the spring season.
Their biggest flaw in 2020-21 was explosive plays, which is a major point of concern against a Coastal offense that showed it could score points quickly in 2020.
The Chanticleers surprised everyone with their success in 2020 after a mediocre 2019 season. Their offense was the driving force of a finish in the AP Top 25 and a near New Year's Six bowl bid. The emergence of quarterback Grayson McCall led to gaudy offensive numbers across the board.
Was 2020 a fluke year when everything went right? Or can the Chanticleers replicate their success yet again? The offense returns most of its main pieces, but questions remain on defense, especially in this matchup with a triple-option team.
Coastal finished the 2020 season with just one loss because of its offense, which was amongst the best in the country in efficiency rates.
It had an effective rushing attack through leading rusher CJ Marable, but he's gone now. McCall is back to lead the Chanticleers up-tempo offense with almost all of his main receiving options returning to the fold.
The Chanticleers were 10th in both EPA per play and Success Rate last year and fifth in Finishing Drives. All of those will be important to try to get a huge margin with their limited time of possession in this game.
Any time a team is facing a triple-option rushing attack, you have to look at the Line Yards, Power Success Rate and Rushing Success Rate Allowed. Coastal's defense was mediocre to bad in all three last year.
It ranked 88th in EPA per rush, 85th in Line Yards and struggled to get off the field in short-yardage situations.
The Chanticleers' defense didn't allow a lot of big plays and was pretty stingy through the air, but that's not really going to matter in this matchup. Against The Citadel, it's about stopping short runs and keeping it from chewing clock, which Coastal needs to do to get margin in this matchup.
The Citadel vs. Coastal Carolina Betting Pick
It can be difficult to prepare for the triple-option in a short week or on a quick turnaround from a previous game. But The Citadel is Coastal's first game, and the Chanticleers have had ample time to prepare for the option attack.
The Citadel will dominate the time of possession and try to grind out the game with long drives that don't feature a lot of explosive plays.
That's typically a good way to play as an underdog and why the service academies tend to be excellent against-the-spread teams as underdogs.
This line opened at 34 and has since been steamed to 35, and it's time to hold your nose and play The Citadel, which will control the time of possession and have multiple chances to get in the backdoor late if necessary.