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Seven months after the confetti fell on national champion Alabama, a new college football season is nearly here. As part of Sports Illustrated's 2021 preview content, we're rolling out scouting reports for all of SI's preseason top 25 teams, featuring all the names, storylines and big games you need to know. Starting with No. 25 Nevada and running through No. 1 Alabama, we'll be featuring five teams per day from Monday through Friday.

The Big Story: Coastal Carolina

The mullets and teal field are back as the Coastal Carolina program looks to carry the momentum from its historic campaign in 2020. The Chanticleers went 11–1 (8–0 in the Sun Belt), pulled off upsets over programs like Zach Wilson–led BYU and ranked No. 14 in the final AP poll—in just their fourth year in the FBS ranks. But can this team do it again? On paper, it looks poised to do so, as all but three starters return. Those back include quarterback Grayson McCall and the entire starting offensive line.

Can't Miss: QB Grayson McCall

McCall may just be a redshirt sophomore, but his first full season showed he’s a powerful fit in Coastal’s triple-option spread offense. He was fifth in the nation in passer rating (184.3), going 172 for 250 through the air for 2,488 yards, 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. The North Carolina native also rushed 111 times for 569 yards and seven touchdowns, and, after a COVID-19 interrupted 2020, he’s now had a full offseason to grow as a starter.

Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall and RB Shermari Jones

Key Question: Can it live up to its own hype?

One of the biggest threats facing the Chanticleers this season is themselves. Coming off a historic campaign that placed the program on the map, there’s the possibility of losing sight of what drove Coastal Carolina through the program’s first undefeated regular season, first Sun Belt Conference title and first FBS postseason bowl game. There are still players on the squad who experienced the 3–9 (2017) and dual 5–7 seasons (’18, ’19), so will those veterans be able to keep the team moving forward? Or will the mountaintop of ’20 spoil the potential for ’21?

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X-Factor: Wide receivers

Coastal Carolina’s receiving corps is deeper this season, as the program’s elite pass catchers are back and multiple players have rebounded from injuries. Leading receiver Jaivon Heiligh is poised to build off of his 998-yard, 10-touchdown campaign that handed him All-Sun Belt honors while senior tight end Isaiah Likely is poised to potentially be a breakout player this season after tallying 30 passes for 601 yards last season. Kameron Brown could have a larger role after totaling at least one catch in 10 of 12 games in 2020, and Aaron Bedgood is expected to make his return after missing the second half of ’19 and all of last season due to injuries.

Date to Circle: Sept. 10 vs. Kansas

The Jayhawks are the first Power 5 opponent to play on the "Surf Turf'' inside Brooks Stadium, and not only does Coastal Carolina have home-field advantage under the Friday night lights for a nationally televised game, but the program is 2–0 all-time against Kansas. Both victories were in Lawrence, the first (in 2019) marking Coastal’s first win over a Power 5 school.

The Bottom Line

The Chanticleers have the weapons and potential to go undefeated in conference play again, and they avoid a regular-season showdown with No. 22 Louisiana (who they edged last season, 30–27, on the road, before a rematch in the Sun Belt title game was canceled). Another league championship could very well be in the cards, but can they get it done?

More Top 25 Team Previews:

• No. 25 Nevada
• No. 24 UCF
No. 23 Texas