The plan for the South Carolina State football team is simple: win out in the final four games and have a winning season.
Anything less will result in a break-even or losing season.
It all starts on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Dover, Delaware, at Delaware State, when the 2-4 Bulldogs (1-3 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play) take on the 0-6 Hornets (0-4 in the MEAC).
S.C. State is still in search of its first road win of the season, and is looking to secure it before hosting Howard on Oct. 28 in Orangeburg.
The Bulldogs are coming off a deflating 12-9 loss in MEAC play at Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 14. A road win this time out could turn a disappointing season around, especially with a bye week to open November before hosting Hampton on Nov. 11.
"We need to win out to have a winning season and that's kind of the big goal at this point now," Bulldogs head coach Buddy Pough said this week. "We go to Delaware and this is a must win for us.
"Del has not won, and Howard beat them (at their own homecoming) this past week. But they were going in to score just before the half to make it 17-10 in their favor, but they ran an option play and a Howard guy ended up with the football going the other way. So I'm sure they are looking at us as their next opportunity for their first win."
The Hornets are coached by Camden native Kenny Carter (The Citadel, class of 1992) who knows S.C. State football all too well. Pough knows any advantage Carter can find will be taken against the Bulldogs.
"We aren't going to make any drastic changes, but we do want to add in some different schemes to give our guys a chance to be more successful," Pough said. "There's not a lot that can be done at this stage in the season to make a team a lot different from what it is.
"We're at the point now where we have to just stand up and play better. We've lost three of four games that could have just as easily been wins for us. The fact that our guys will continue to compete against anybody is still a positive. We've just got to bring it to the house and finish off these games."
The Bulldogs have rushed for more than 200 yards above the current rushing total for the Hornets. However, the Hornets have passed for nearly 100 more yards this season than the Bulldogs. But S.C. State is averaging 21.3 points per game, while the Hornets are averaging just 11.2 points per game.
"I think Del will mimic some of what they've seen that has been effective against us recently, some of what Bethune-Cookman and maybe Morgan State did," Pough said. "They are basically a three-front team that will try to do the pro style 3-4 stuff. It'll be a lot of guys close down to the line of scrimmage.
"Offensively, I think that they try to do some quarterback run stuff and have a big screen game. That's gotten to be a big deal in the college game now. They've got two quarterbacks, and one is a drop-back-style passer. So we've got to be ready for both of them to play."
Delaware State is led in rushing by Brycen Alleyne with 221 yards rushing and an average of 4.4 yards per carry this season. Three other backs have more than 100 yards rushing each and one touchdown between them. Freshman quarterback Jack McDaniels has completed 74 passes for 865 yards and two touchdowns, against five interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Keenan Black has completed 20 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns, against just one interception. Four different receivers have caught 10 or more passes this season for the Hornets.
"The sky is the limit for what they might see as available for them to find an advantage on us to try and come up with a win," Pough said. "But our guys are excited about playing and we have had a good week of practice to be ready for this game."