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Balling at the Beach

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Coastal Carolina is officially one of Group of Five football's hottest teams.

It's time to pay attention to Coastal Carolina. After an exciting 30-28 win at Louisiana in the Chanticleers' Sun Belt opener, Coastal Carolina has now won three games in a row and five of six contests overall, the only loss coming at South Carolina, dating back to last year. Coastal Carolina, winners of three straight league games, has notable momentum ahead of a critical stretch of the schedule. With many still learning about the Chanticleers, they are making formal introductions each and every week.

Coastal Carolina is a fascinating mix of pride and potential. Though younger, as a program, than any player on the roster, the Chanticleers won seven Big South Conference titles and advanced to the playoffs six teams as a member of the FCS. High-profile head coach Joe Moglia, formerly the CEO at Ameritrade, is a dynamic leader, boasting an on-field success rate of 76.8%. Currently, only defending league champion Troy has a longer conference winning streak.

Recent successes have come a variety of different ways for Coastal Carolina. The program's first Sun Belt victory came a long way from home last November, the furthest trip in school history, as the Chanticleers won a hard-fought game at Idaho. Coastal Carolina then promptly topped Georgia Southern, a foe relatively-close in both proximity and, potentially, provenance. Following an opening loss at South Carolina, this fall has featured consecutive wins over UAB, a bowl team from 2017, Campbell and Louisiana.

These Chanticleers are running the ball with conviction. Coastal Carolina ranks 12th nationally with 266.5 rushing yards per game, averaging 313.3 yards per outing since South Carolina. The offense is 10th in the country in runs of ten yards or more with 33 and 4th in runs of 20 yards or more with 13. Correspondingly, the Chanticleers slot 15th in total first downs with 102. They rank number one in the country having gone 3-of-3 on fourth downs. Individually, Boston College-transfer Marcus Outlow leads the Sun Belt with 358 yards rushing and is tied for the league-lead with five touchdowns.

The rest of the season, with a number of challenges awaiting and the program's national profile expanding, will be a great barometer for Coastal Carolina. Starting this Saturday at Troy, games against league brass will help measure progress; the Chanticleers open November with three straight home games against Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern. The site of significant construction efforts, Brooks Stadium will soon see just how far Coastal Carolina has come.

Now settled in at college football's highest level in the Sun Belt East alongside the Eagles, Mountaineers, Trojans and Georgia State, the Chanticleers' future is taking shape. December could come with a historic postseason trip. Coastal Carolina is officially one of Group of Five football's hottest teams. The unique mascot aside, this is a name worth knowing. 

With a campus located roughly mere miles from one of America's great shorelines, Coastal Carolina has an upside that comes with a view. Correspondingly, it comes with a vision. Still one of college football's youngest programs, the Chanticleers have a championship pedigree, a notable pipeline to the pros and, with FBS inclusion, the potential for even more. This "Ball at the Beach" comes with a firm grip around the laces.   

Like the waves crashing at nearby Surfside Beach, Coastal Carolina is coming. You can still see the footprints in the sand.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports