The Conference USA schedules were released this week and we now finally get to see what is in store for the 49ers and head coach Brad Lambert in their fourth FBS season.
Below is how the schedule breaks down and what the 49ers will face in each game this season as they attempt to climb out of the C-USA East gutter.
The 2018 Charlotte Football schedule is out. We start the season with 3 straight home games, including one vs. @AppState_FB. In November, we go to @Vol_Football. #rocksolid #NinerNation pic.twitter.com/9LAqJPiVVs— Charlotte Football (@Charlotte49erFB) January 23, 2018
Week 1 vs. Fordham
Charlotte will open the season at Jerry Richardson Stadium as they welcome in FCS Fordham. The Rams have made the FCS playoffs three times in the last five years but will be breaking in new head coach Joe Conlin. This is a must win game after the Rams finished 4-7 last season.
Week 2 vs. Appalachian State
The 49ers return home the next week to host Group of Five power Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have won consecutive Sun Belt titles but must replace four-year starting quarterback Taylor Lamb in 2018. This will likely be the perfect time to get App State, but the Mountaineers will have a clear talent advantage as the two Tar Heel state program go at it.
Week 3 vs. Old Dominion
The 49ers begin conference play when the Monarchs travel to Queen City for this East divisional clash. These two played an ugly 6-0 game in 2017 so the hope is that the fans will be able to see some much better football this time around. This may be Charlotte’s best chance at a conference win.
Week 4 at UMass
In the first road trip of the season, Charlotte will meet a UMass team in Amherst that is fresh off a very competitive 4-8 season. Andrew Ford figures to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Group of Five next season after averaging over eight yards per attempt and tossing for 22 touchdowns in 2017.
Week 5 at UAB
On the last Saturday in September, the Blazers of UAB will host Charlotte at Legion Field. The resurgent program has a hot shot head coach in Bill Clark and one of the best backs in the country in sophomore Spencer Brown. Winning here will be a tall task for Lambert and his squad.
Week 6 Bye
Charlotte gets a good time for a bye as they get a big break before they get into the meat of their C-USA schedule. Getting to 3-2 at this point in the season appears to be a very achievable goal for the program.
Week 7 vs. WKU
The Tops were one of the most disappointing teams in all of college football last season as they finished below .500 in their first year under Mike Sanford Jr. Stud quarterback Mike White is now off to the NFL and this could be a good opportunity for an upset victory.
Week 8 at Middle Tennessee
The secondary figures to get tested big time in Murfreesboro with Brent Stockstill behind center for the Blue Raiders. As long as the lefty is healthy, this is a dangerous offense joined by a much improved defense under coordinator Scott Shafer. This one isn’t close if MTSU is healthy.
Week 9 vs. Southern Miss
On Halloween weekend, Southern Miss will come to town and must replace one of the best players in program history in running back Ito Smith. Expectations are high for quarterback Kwadra Griggs and Jay Hopson is one of the better defensive minds in the Sun Belt. On paper, Charlotte will be a significant underdog.
Week 10 at Tennessee
Here is the paycheck game for Charlotte as they’ll head to Rocky Top to begin the season’s final month. This one shouldn’t be close.
Week 11 at Marshall
Next will be a trip to Huntington to play at The Joan against a Marshall team that figures to be one of the best in the league. This will be a talent disadvantage at nearly every position and could get ugly.
Week 12 vs. FIU
Butch Davis and his club will make the trip north to Charlotte for a November game and this could be a cold one. The Panthers lose some significant offensive firepower but should have one of the league’s better defense. This one could be a freezing, low scoring football game on senior day.
Week 13 at Florida Atlantic
Lane Kiffin is back for year two in Boca Raton and nearly the entire team returns. This will likely be a warmup for the Owls before they make another appearance in the C-USA championship game. On paper, this is a total blowout.
It’s a unique schedule for the Charlotte football program as they only really have one paycheck game, but should be a dog in most of their contests.
There are some big opportunity for the 49ers in the front part of the schedule as they have very winnable games against Fordham, Old Dominion, and UMass. After the bye it gets ugly and we could be looking at another long season.
With a new administration in place, Brad Lambert will have a lot of work to do to remain the head of this program.