Bulldogs combo tackle in Wofford game

South Carolina State redshirt freshmen B.J. Davis (15) and Scott Robinson (36), both from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, combine to tackle Wofford halfback D'mauriae VanCleave (3) during the season-opening 28-13 win by the Bulldogs. SC State's defense, which shut out Lane College a week ago, will look to slow down the South Florida Bulls in Tampa on Saturday.

The facts about Saturday's South Carolina State football game at South Florida are obvious and simple.

SC STATE FOOTBALL: Winning football has Bulldogs eager for Tampa trip

The Bulldogs are a Football Championship Subdivision program that has started the season 2-0 and would like nothing better than to get a win in Tampa, Florida against the Bulls - a Football Bowl Subdivision team that plays in the American Athletic Conference and has started the season 0-2.

For Buddy Pough, head coach of the Bulldogs for his 18th season, to take his team on the road and get a win against a fellow former South Carolina Gamecock assistant coach (Charlie Strong) and his team would be big. It would be the first time the SC State program would have won against an FBS program.

For that to happen, the Bulldogs will need their suddenly high-scoring offense to keep churning up yardage and points, while the mainstay sturdy defense that SC State is traditionally known for plays as well as it did in holding Wofford to 13 points and Lane scoreless.

"We are a little bit better (on defense) than I thought we would be early on this season," Pough said this week. "I think the big reason we are better is because we are deeper.

"We've got some good players there, but we've got a bunch of good players. We don't necessarily get a big drop-off when we move from one unit to another. I think that makes us confident to put another guy there and not necessarily wear another guy out."

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Pough fully expects his team will need that depth against a Bulls offense that is pushing to get things rolling this season, after being shut out by No. 14 Wisconsin (49-0) and managed just 10 points a week ago in a 14-10 loss at Georgia Tech.

"It's hot this time of year and it's harder, sometimes, playing these spread (offense) teams against the weather," Pough said. "The weather can be harder on your guys than the other team's offense.

"So, we try to have enough bodies to keep rotating guys in and out of games. That makes a big difference and I think it gives us a chance to play with these kind of teams."

The Bulldogs currently lead the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rankings - through two games - with 4 interceptions, and are second in the MEAC with 3 quarterback sacks. That type of aggressive defense, combined with an offense that leads the MEAC with 35 first downs and 9 scores (7 touchdowns) in 9 trips to the red zone, gives SC State a competitive chance to be in the game with South Florida.

"We've got a shot, it can happen," Pough said. "Traditionally, in this state, you've had (Football) Championship Subdivision teams to go into those kind of places and win from time to time.

"So, why not us? We'd like to have a shot at it. We're excited about going down there to play. And we've got everything going for us at this point."

A win at South Florida would tie Pough (127-71 record as Bulldogs' head coach) with former SC State head coach Willie Jeffries for the all-time wins record at the Orangeburg program.

"People look at the 0-2 record (for the Bulls), but that's still a good bit better football team than we have here at South Carolina State," Pough said. "South Florida had been a traditional Top 25 program for years, but they've fallen on hard times.

"They've got really good players and good coaches. I'm sure they're looking to rebound against us. I bet you we're going into a hornet's nest, those guys ought to be really hot and bothered right now. So, we've got our work cut out for us. But, we'll go in there and play and see what happens. You want to stop them on defense and make them punt several times. And on offense, you want to see first downs and consistent gains in a way that you can tell you are that level of football team."

But, win or lose, the Bulldogs will enter into MEAC play with a winning record on October 5 at Delaware State.

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