Five Bulldogs were selected to the All-Conference teams by the coaches. C Mike Cellars, P Cass Couey, and DE Chris Billingslea were named to the first team while DT Derek Douglas and FB Darien Robinson were second team selections.
The Citadel's season opened at home against Charleston Southern. The Bulldogs and Buccaneers met for the sixth time, with The Citadel holding a 4–1 advantage in the all-time series. The Citadel won the last meeting 35–14 in the 2007 opener. Charleston Southern claimed its only victory over the Bulldogs in 2006, a double–overtime win that is also the only home-opener loss for The Citadel under coach Kevin Higgins. The cross-town rivals have squared off to open the season three previous times, with The Citadel winning all three games.
As a result of six fumbles, two lost, the teams were tied at halftime despite The Citadel dominating all phases of the game. After the half, the Bulldogs scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. QB Ben Dupree rushed 17 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns, Rickey Anderson had 10 carries for 80 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Darien Robinson had 12 rushes for 120 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldogs passed just six times, completing three of them. QB Aaron Miller was 3 for 5 passing, completing passes to three different receivers. The Citadel did not punt in the game, missing one field goal. Charleston Southern QB Malcolm Dixon completed 6 of 14 passes for 123 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Chase Jones had two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs hosted #3 Georgia Southern in the SoCon opener for both schools. The two teams return two of the top three rushing attacks in the country (and the conference as Wofford is the other) and run the same Triple Option scheme on offense. The Eagles entered with a commanding 174 record against The Citadel, including a pair of playoff victories over the Bulldogs in 1988 and 1990. Last year, Georgia Southern held off The Citadel 14–12 in Statesboro as the Bulldogs missed a field goal in a swirling wind with seconds remaining. The last Citadel victory in the series was a 24–21 win in Charleston in 2006. Georgia Southern had won five in a row, but four of those were by less than a touchdown. The Citadel had lost nine consecutive home conference games.
The Citadel forced two turnovers in the first quarter, converting both fumbles into touchdowns for a quick 14–0 lead. Georgia Southern scored three touchdowns, while The Citadel kicked a pair of field goals to trail 21–20 late. Thomas Warren kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 23–21 lead with 35 seconds remaining, nearly the identical situation to the 2011 meeting when Warren missed a 37-yard attempt with 13 seconds left which would have won. Georgia Southern returned the ensuing kickoff into Bulldog territory, but missed their own 31-yard field goal attempt as time ran out, sealing The Citadel's win. The Bulldogs entered the 2012 NCAA Division I FCS football rankings for the first time since 2008.
The Citadel made its first road trip of the season to Boone, NC, where the Bulldogs had not won since their last SoCon championship season of 1992. The Mountaineers entered claiming eight victories in a row and 17 of 18 against The Citadel. This was the second game of a daunting three game stretch for The Citadel, playing the teams picked to finish first and second in the league followed by a trip to FBS NC State. Last season, Appalachian State raced to a 49–14 lead in the third quarter before The Citadel stormed back with four unanswered touchdowns led by QB Aaron Miller before running out of time, losing 49–14.
The Bulldogs raced to an early 24–0 lead, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions before being limited to a field goal on their fourth while holding App State scoreless. The Mountaineers punted again on their fourth possession, but LB Carson Smith blocked the kick and returned it for a touchdown to extend The Citadel lead to 31–0. The Citadel added three more touchdowns before the end of the third quarter, while App State finally broke through against The Citadel's reserve defense late in the game, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Citadel amassed 618 yards of offense, its most ever in a regulation game and just 23 yards short of the all-time record in an overtime game against Furman. The Bulldogs option offense gained 463 yards on the ground, with three backs each recording over 100 yards and WR Matt Thompson adding 123 yards receiving. App State's home win streak of 18 games was snapped, and The Citadel won in Boone for the first time since 1992.
The Bulldogs travel to Raleigh, NC for the fourth time, having once played NC State in Wilmington, NC. The Wolfpack has claimed victories in all four meetings between the schools, most recently a 1983 win by 45–0. The three previous meetings were all prior to World War II. The Citadel has not defeated an FBS opponent since 1992, when they stunned Arkansas and defeated Army. The Citadel has not defeated an Atlantic Coast Conference school since the conference was formed by seven Southern Conference schools in 1953. The Bulldogs have claimed seven wins over current ACC schools, with six of those wins coming against Clemson, most recently in 1931.
The Bulldogs saw two coaches depart in the offseason, with Defensive Coordinator/safeties coach Josh Conklin departing for Tennessee and Tight Ends coach Raleigh Jackson accepting the linebackers coach position at Division II Slippery Rock. The Bulldogs added John Hauser from Wayne State to coach safeties. Defensive line coach Denny Doornbos added Defensive Coordinator responsibilities.