Six home games, including a season-opener against Coastal Carolina and a Homecoming meeting with longtime rival Furman, road contests against Southern Conference newcomers VMI and Mercer and a week two matchup against 2014 BCS National Champion Florida State highlight the 2014 Citadel football schedule.
"It is obviously a challenging first two games that will tell us a lot about our roster and prepare us well for the rest of the season," said first-year Head Coach Mike Houston. "We are looking forward to playing highly-ranked competition right out of the gate."
For the second straight year, the Bulldogs will play a 12-game schedule which includes six at Johnson Hagood Stadium and six on the road.
The Citadel, which has opened every season at home since 2009, continues the trend in 2014 as the Bulldogs host in-state foe Coastal Carolina on Aug. 30 in a first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Chanticleers closed out the 2013 season with a 12-3 record which included two FCS playoff wins and a No. 7 final ranking. Coastal Carolina is one of five Bulldog opponents who finished ranked in the Top 25 of last season's FCS poll.
The Citadel plays its lone game against an FBS opponent on Sept. 6 when it heads to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on defending FBS National Champion Florida State. The Seminole roster boasts 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
The last time the Bulldogs faced a defending Heisman Trophy winner was in 2008 against Florida's Tim Tebow. The Gators went on to win the national championship that season, but The Citadel has never faced a defending BCS National Champion.
After a bye week, the Bulldogs travel up the road to Ladson, S.C., to take on Charleston Southern on Sept. 20 for the eighth time in program history and third consecutive year. The Bulldogs look to avenge a 32-29 season-opening loss to the Buccaneers last season at Johnson Hagood Stadium. CSU went on to win a school-record 10 games and earn a final ranking of No. 22.
The Citadel returns home on Sept. 27 to take on its third Big South Conference opponent of the season in Gardner-Webb. The meeting will be the first between the two programs.
The Bulldogs open their conference slate the following week on the road against Wofford on Oct. 4. The Citadel will be looking to snap a 15-game losing skid against the Terriers dating back to 1998.
Johnson Hagood Stadium will be the site of the next two contests as the Bulldogs take on Charlotte in their annual Parents' Day game on Oct. 11 before hosting Chattanooga on Oct. 18. Charlotte is in its final FCS season before moving up to the FBS' Conference USA in 2015. The Mocs finished the 2013 season as the 25th-ranked team in the country.
A trip to Cullowhee, N.C., for the second straight season to compete against Western Carolina will take place on Oct. 25 followed by a road contest against first-year SoCon member Mercer on Nov. 1.
The Citadel takes on Furman in Charleston on Nov. 8 in its annual Homecoming game. The Bulldogs and Paladins, who hold the longest rivalry in the Southern Conference, have met every season since 1919 except for three years (1943-45) during World War II. The Paladins hold a 58-32-3 edge in the series, including a 24-17 win at Johnson Hagood Stadium last season.
Furman closed out the 2013 campaign ranked 21st in the country after a late-season surge boosted the Paladins into the playoffs where they won their opening round game against South Carolina State.
The Citadel closes out its home slate the following week against Samford, which finished the 2013 season ranked 18th in the country. The Citadel handed the Alabama-based Bulldogs their first conference loss last season with a 28-26 win at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
"We are certainly excited to have Furman at home in what will surely be a big ball game for us," said Houston. "Along with the rest of the SoCon, we welcome new league members Mercer and fellow military school VMI into the fold. They will be great additions to an already outstanding conference."
The Southern Conference schedule wraps up on Nov. 22 with a trip to Lexington, Va., for the 35th edition of the Military Classic of the South and 70th overall meeting with the Keydets. The VMI football team competed in the SoCon from 1924-2002 and will return for the 2014 season after leaving the Big South.
The Bulldogs have defeated the Keydets with the coveted Silver Shako on the line in each of the last seven meetings dating back to 2003 and hold a 37-30-2 edge in the all-time series.
"My staff and I are extremely excited to start building the foundation for an outstanding program here at The Citadel," finished Houston. "We are laying the ground work for the future and looking forward to the opportunities for success that await us this fall. Go Bulldogs!"
The Bulldogs open spring practice on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and will hold their spring game at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Saturday, March 15 in conjunction with the Beautiful Bulldog Contest.