Judging by how we reacted to our previous two opponents, it is not totally crazy to say that Charlotte could actually go undefeated in their inaugural season. We have remained disciplined, extremely mature, well coached and most of all remained healthy. But, things can change quickly. Our challengers will get better, our players are only kids and are prone to come out "flat" a game or two. We also don't know how our team will play outside the comforts of Jerry Richardson Stadium. However, after researching the remaining schedule, I remain a believer. Let's have a look at the remaining schedule and pick out possible road blocks:
- North Carolina Central Eagles (MEAC)
2012 Record: 6-5
North Carolina Central might not pose a threat because they fired their head coach before the first game and have an interim head coach at the current time. The 2013 team brings a 1-1 record to Jerry Richardson stadium with a loss to Duke (45-0), but a two overtime win against St. Augustine. Although this shows a lot of grit and toughness, I don't think they will be able to keep up with the high flying Niner offense.
- At James Madison Dukes (Colonial Athletic Association)
2012 Record: 7-4
James Madison could be the ultimate test for the Niners as they sport a pretty good record and lots of experience playing against FBS programs. This team is only 2 years removed from beating a #13 national ranked Virginia Tech, so some of those players are still intact. Despite the pretty good record for the Dukes, the notable fact is that this will be Charlotte's first road game...in a stadium that seats 25,000 people under the lights (a Niner first). The Dukes will not be intimidated by the Niners and will be a true test.
- At Presbyterian Blue Hose (Big South)
2012 Record: 2-9
The Blue Hose are definitely rebuilding, but they are not unaccustomed to playing FBS teams as they lost last year to Georgia Tech (59-3) and Vanderbilt (58-0). This is an away game and could catch the Niners off guard if the James Madison game becomes physically draining, but they should be outmatched by the Niners athleticism in the end.
- Gardner Webb Flying Bulldogs (Big South)
2012 Record: 3-8
The Flying Bulldogs will come to Charlotte with an opportunity to get into a backyard brawl with another instate school. This team is used to playing big boys, losing to Pitt in 2012, but I don't think they get the best of the Niners when we are home.
- UNC Pembroke Braves (Division II Independent) Homecoming
2012 Record: 6-4
The matchup with the Braves is interesting, but not because of how they stack up against the Niners, but because it's a rematch that is happening over 60 years after late. Referring to the blog I wrote about the Charlotte "Owls" (the Charlotte's club football team from 1946) and how they hosted UNC Pembroke's original team at historical Memorial Stadium. Charlotte won the matchup, but Charlotte's team ended in 1948, while Pembroke's team ended in 1950. Both teams are back (UNC Pembroke started playing again in 2007). I don't see this one ending up any different than 1946...Niners win.
- At Charleston Southern Buccaneers (Big South)
2012 Record: 5-6
The Buccaneers could be a team to pull off an upset of the Niners. They are playing at home and boast a 2-0 record as of now. I don't think the team matches up against the Niners, but they beat the above mentioned teams I marked as "low threat" and could catch the Niners asleep as they prep for Coastal Carolina.
- At Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Big South)
2012 Record: 8-5
Playing Coastal Carolina might be a fun away game. Not only do they play at Myrtle Beach which could be a fun game for the Niner faithful to travel too, but they are competitive. It's not uncommon for this team to be found on the schedules of different FBS teams (including Georgia, Clemson and South Carolina), but those challenges have made them a stronger team, boasting 5-1 conference record in 2012. This could be the ultimate trap because they are setting up the Niners as their Homecoming game...so the stadium of nearly 10,000 should be excited. Also the game starts at 3:00, and could end under the lights.
- Wesley College Wolverines (Capital Athletic Conference)
2012 Record: 10-2
Despite the Wolverines great record, the team is division 3. They could play the Niners tough, but they should be highly outmatched in the end.
- At Morehead State (Pioneer Football League)
2012 Record: 4-7
It's tough to get a read on Morehead. They lost a lot, but their wins were incredibly lopsided blowouts. One of their wins was against common opponent Campbell (70-28). After the season, their coach was fired and the new coach hasn't found his groove yet at they are currently 0-2. I think the Niners head to their 10,000 person stadium and handle business.
A lot can change over time, so understand none of these games are guaranteed. Obviously the James Madison and Coastal Carolina are the teams that stand out and both are away games. I think Charlotte could compete with these teams, but I wouldn't expect these lopsided victories and be ready for a drag out battle. Regardless, it should be interesting and a great first season for the Niners. We will certainly keep learning about our team and see what they are made of over the next couple of weeks!
Niners taking the field. Photo Cred
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