Charleston Southern, Indiana schedule game for Oct. 7

Charleston Southern coach Mark Tucker signals a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

(STATS) – When Charleston Southern’s game at South Carolina State, scheduled for Sept. 9, was canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, it seemed like the Buccaneers would have a pair of bye weeks.

Instead, they’ve replaced that lost chance with a much bigger challenge.

The 16th-ranked Bucs have added a game with Indiana to their slate on Oct. 7, which was a mutual bye week. The Hoosiers were scheduled to play Florida International this weekend in Bloomington, but the Panthers had to cancel with much of their athletic department still in Alabama after moving operations there prior to Irma’s impact.

That cancellation commonality got the programs talking, and they agreed on Tuesday to set up the date in October. Both teams will play 10 straight weeks, but to Charleston Southern coach Mark Tucker, that’s a small price to pay.

“We’re only guaranteed 11 opportunities in a season and with Hurricane Irma striking the East Coast, that prevented us from playing one of those games,” Tucker said. “We’ve been blessed to have another opportunity within our open date to compete against a Big Ten team in Indiana. It’s always exciting for our kids to go into big time venues and have the opportunity to compete.”

Indiana will be the second Power 5 program Charleston Southern faces in 2017. The Bucs lost 49-0 at Mississippi State in their opener Sept. 2.

“When Coach Tucker called the captains yesterday to ask our opinions, it was a unanimous yes from all of us,” senior linebacker Bobby Ruff said. “We realized that playing against a Big Ten team was a challenge, but it would only help us as we prepare for conference.”

Charleston Southern visits Elon on Saturday before its first two home games of the season, Sept. 23 against Point University of the NAIA and Sept. 30 against SWAC member Mississippi Valley State. The trip to Indiana will be the Bucs’ second game against a Big Ten opponent after falling 44-0 at Illinois in 2012.

It will be another uphill climb against the Hoosiers, but for a program with aspirations of a third straight FCS playoff appearance, it’s an experience that could pay dividends down the road.

“Any time you get an opportunity to play against a quality, Big Ten opponent like Indiana, you have to be excited to get them on your schedule,” athletic director Hank Small said. “They went toe-to-toe with Ohio State in the opening weekend and we know that it will be a good game for our team to help us continue to grow and develop for our conference schedule.”