Sept. 13, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina returns to the friendly confines of E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field on Saturday afternoon to host The Citadel Bulldogs in both its home and Southern Conference opener. Kickoff of the annual Catamount Club Appreciation game is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Tailgating on campus Saturday begins at noon with gates opening 90 minutes prior to kickoff at 2:00 pm.
Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network broadcast with an air time of 2:30 pm across 11 stations and online at CatamountSports.com. Fans can listen to the game locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; 1150 AM WAVO in Charlotte/Rock Hill, S.C.; 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County; on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville/Canton; 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville; and on CSN's newest affiliates, Country Legends 550 and 92.9 in Statesville.
Fans can additionally catch the game online at CatamountSports.com with live GameTracker (free), live streaming audio (free) through Stretch Internet and live video streaming through Catamount All-Access (subscription).
"This game is huge," said Speir during the SoCon's weekly teleconference. "It's our first Southern Conference game. And just like The Citadel, we're 0-2 right now. Their goal in preseason was to win a Southern Conference championship by winning one SoCon game at a time. That, too, is our goal. Those other games, yes, you want to win them. But for us, this is our first opportunity - this is their opportunity to get to 1-1 in the conference, which is huge for them. So for both ball teams, this is a big ball game."
He added, "We're expecting a huge crowd Saturday. Our players know what this game means and we're excited about playing it this week."
Western Carolina (0-2) plays its first Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) foe of the season after opening with back-to-back road trips against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams - Middle Tennessee and Virginia Tech. It's WCU's first FCS game since Nov. 2, 2012 when it hosted Chattanooga in Cullowhee.
The Catamounts look to end a couple of skids with Saturday's home-opener. WCU has dropped 12-straight games dating back to the 2012 season-opening victory over Mars Hill. The squad will also try and halt its 22-game winless drought in SoCon play - a streak which dates back to WCU's road win over The Citadel in 2010.
The Citadel (0-2) is likewise winless in 2013 in two attempts this season, dropping a pair of home games to cross-town rival, Charleston Southern, and in its SoCon-opener against Wofford. With their triple-option offensive attack, the Bulldogs are averaging 321.5 total yards per game including 223.5 yards on the ground. However, despite averaging 19.5 points per game, the Bulldog offense has only scored four touchdowns - all coming on the ground in the opener against CSU.
Last season, WCU and The Citadel went into the fourth quarter tied at 24 in the seasonal meeting in Charleston, S.C. However, the Bulldogs' Rickey Anderson found the end zone from 11 yards out on the first play of the final frame as The Citadel outscored the Catamounts, 21-to-7, to pull away for the 45-31 victory.
WCU had two players eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark against the Bulldogs last season. Classmates Darius Ramsey and Troy Mitchell both amassed over 100 rushing yards, tallying 118 and 117, respectively, with Mitchell crossing the goal line twice
Kickoff Saturday is scheduled for 3:30 pm. For advanced tickets, contact the WCU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401, or purchase online at CatamountSports.com.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. THE CITADEL - SERIES HISTORY:
Western Carolina trails The Citadel, 15-21-1, having dropped back-to-back games to the Bulldogs ... the series in Cullowhee all-time is tied at nine wins and nine losses apiece ... The Citadel has won seven of the last nine meetings in the series dating back to 2004 with the Catamounts winning back-to-back meetings in 2009 and 2010 - the latter representing WCU's last victory in SoCon play.
ADDITIONAL WCU-CITADEL SERIES NOTES:
The 13th-largest crowd in Whitmire Stadium history (12,818) witnessed the 1992 meeting between the Catamounts and Bulldogs ... In that game, WCU receiver Craig Aiken amassed a stadium-record 232 yards receiving in a 36-31 Homecoming Day loss to the Cadets ... It is just one of four games in the all-time top-12 not against Appalachian State;
Since 1989, the WCU-Citadel game has been postponed or moved on THREE separate occasions - in `89, the two played to a 22-22 tie at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., after Charleston suffered damage from Hurricane Hugo ... In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused the game in Cullowhee to be moved to Nov. 20 with WCU winning the makeup game, 24-17 ... And most recently in 2001, in the wake of the events of Sept. 11th, the game was rescheduled for Nov. 17 in Cullowhee - a 28-25 WCU win.
WESTERN CAROLINA IN HOME OPENERS AT WHITMIRE STADIUM:
WCU holds a 29-10 record in home openers since moving into E.J. Whitmire Stadium in 1974 ... the Catamounts have won two-straight home openers, both over Mars Hill in 2011 and 2012 ... After winning 11-straight home openers dating back to 1998, the Catamounts dropped back-to-back openers to Gardner-Webb in 2009 and Tusculum in 2010 ... All told, WCU has won 18 of the last 21 home openers dating back to 1992.
THE CATAMOUNTS IN SOUTHERN CONFERENCE OPENERS:
Since joining the SoCon in 1977 (member in 1976, although did not compete for the championship until 1977), Western Carolina is 20-16 overall in conference openers ... the Catamounts are 7-14 in SoCon openers played on the road ... WCU last won its SoCon opener in 2005 with a 41-21 upset of No. 2 Furman in Cullowhee ... the Catamounts have not won their conference road opener since 2003, a 28-21 victory over East Tennessee State.
BOUNCING BACK AFTER A LOSS TO A FBS TEAM:
Since 1978, Western Carolina has managed to win 22 of the 44 games played following facing a NCAA FBS opponent ... Of the 22 wins, 16 came at home, most recently defeating Mars Hill after a season-opening loss at Georgia Tech in 2011 ... Six of WCU's losses came as the Catamounts faced back-to-back FBS teams - which it did in 2013 ... WCU has failed to win its first game following an FBS match-up since the second chance in 2007 when the Catamounts upended Presbyterian after a road loss at Georgia ... three of the last five losses following FBS game have come at home (2008, L vs. Liberty; 2009, L vs. Gardner-Webb; 2010, L vs. Tusculum).
CATAMOUNTS LOOKING TO SNAP SKIDS ON SATURDAY:
WCU's current 12-game losing skid is the SECOND longest winless drought in FCS football behind Rhode Island's current 15-game losing streak that dates back to the 2011 season ... the 12-game slide ranks FOURTH among ALL NCAA Division I football programs;
For the second time since 2005, Western Carolina has dropped 20-plus Southern Conference games ... WCU's current 22-game skid is the THIRD longest in SoCon history ... VMI holds the record of 28-straight conference losses from 1996 through 2000 before halting the slide against Chattanooga ... Davidson has the second-longest drought that stretched 25-straight league games;
Western Carolina's current 22-game SoCon losing skid is the LONGEST conference drought in all of NCAA Division I football entering the 2013 season ... Kansas in the Big 12 has dropped 21-straight league games at the FBS level;
WCU's first, 20-game skid started with a 35-7 road loss at Appalachian State in 2005, one game removed from a 24-0 shutout victory over Wofford - the only time the Terriers have been blanked since joining the SoCon ... WCU snapped the first 20-game slide with a home win over Chattanooga;
The current 22-game SoCon winless drought started on Oct. 9, 2010 with a home loss to Samford, one week after WCU's last conference win at The Citadel (10/2/10).