KENNESAW -- Kennesaw State will travel to Campbell on Saturday trying to put its last game behind it.
After their 45-21 loss to Monmouth last week, the No. 15 Owls (7-2, 3-1) need to beat the Camels (6-2, 3-0) to keep any hope of a Big South Conference championship alive and to stay in the hunt for one of the 24 Football Championship Subdivision playoff spots.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Campbell has never hosted a ranked opponent in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and it could do so in consecutive weeks. If the Camels can beat Kennesaw State this week and current No. 19 Monmouth next Saturday, they will be in position to win their first Big South championship.
"We're playing a team that is undefeated in the league, that has a chance to win the conference championship, and we're on the road," Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. "They are a good football team. They are big and athletic on defense, like they were a year ago. We didn't score a point until 8 minutes were left in the second quarter."
It took a 15-play, 80-yard drive to finally get Kennesaw State on the board when it hosted Campbell last year. A sack on the Camels' subsequent drive forced a quick three-and-out, and Owls quarterback Chandler Burks went 50 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive.
From that point forward, the tidal wave began. Kennesaw State led 21-0 at the half, Darnell Holland returned the second-half kickoff 84 yards for a touchdowns and the final score was 49-0.
The big difference for Campbell this year will be at quarterback.
Hajj-Malik Williams has completed 60% of his passes for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns, while running for 418 and five touchdowns. His efforts have put him on the watch list for the Jerry Rice Award as the best freshman in FCS.
"(Williams) we know because he's right here from Atlanta," Bohannon said. "He went to Hapeville Charter and won a state championship his senior year. He ended up transferring (to Campbell) from Army. He's an athletic quarterback, a true dual-threat guy. He's probably more scary when he gets out of the pocket because he's so athletic and can make plays with his feet."
Williams' success has opened up the rest of the Campbell offense to allow other playmakers to show what they can do.
The Camels have a group of running backs, led by Johnathan Hawkins, who has rushed for a team-high 446 yards with five touchdowns. In all, the unit is averaging 192.6 rushing yards per game, with Hawkins followed by Cameron Davis (373 yds., 2 TD) and Bryant Barr (193 yds., 2 TD).
Caleb Snead leads the Campbell receivers with 23 receptions for 455 yards and five touchdowns, but Bohannon believes the Camels, who are averaging 31.1 points per game, will want to run the ball first and try to have success on the perimeter.
"You have to cover the field," Bohannon said. "They do a good job with what they do. They are winning games."
The run-first mentality comes from Campbell coach Mike Minter, a former Carolina Panthers safety and member of Nebraska's 1994 and '95 national championship teams. While playing defense at Nebraska, Minter got an understanding of how to try and stop the triple-option, having to face Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Frazier as he ran it every day in practice.
Minter took over the Campbell program in 2013, leading it through the transition from playing in the non-scholarship Pioneer League just two years ago to being a potential Big South title contender this year.
Now, Minter's team will have to face a Kennesaw State offense that leads the FCS in rushing at 360.9 yards per game.
"These guys are good," Minter said this week during his coach's show. "You have to be able to tackle these guys in space and get them on the ground. If you don't, you'll have guys running down the field all day long, and you have to (make that tackle in space) 65 times. It's old-school football."
Bronson Rechsteiner is Kennesaw State's leading rusher with 613 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Daniel David has run for 448 yards and leads Owls with 14 rushing touchdowns.
Kennesaw State is 5-0 in its last five games following a loss, winning those games by an average of 28.2 points per game. That includes a 42-7 victory earlier this season at Alabama State, one week after the Owls' overtime loss at Kent State.
ON THE AIR
The game will be streamed on ESPN+. It can be heard on 1230 AM and 106.3 FM Atlanta Sports X, ot it can be streamed with the TuneIn app.