So which of the teams playing Saturday afternoon at Halton Arena fits this description?
• Has at least one impressive nonconference victory against a ranked opponent.
• Had high hopes entering the Conference USA season, but hasn’t been able to balance baffling losses with a few victories against some of the league’s top teams.
• Is now trying to shake the effects of a late-season slump.
Try both. The struggling Charlotte 49ers and Alabama-Birmingham play at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
The 49ers (14-11, 5-7) raised expectations with victories against Kansas State and Michigan in November. Although they’ve won at Texas-El Paso, which is tied for first place in the C-USA, they’ve now lost four straight and six of their past eight games. The Blazers (16-10, 5-7) beat North Carolina in December. They won league games against Southern Mississippi and Tulsa, but have lost four of their past six.
“We’ve been Jekyl and Hyde, and I take responsibility for that,” 49ers coach Alan Major said after Charlotte’s 71-49 loss against Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
The 49ers trailed by 10 at halftime, and couldn’t get within six points of the Blue Raiders the rest of the way.
“It felt like the game would grind on and it got a little bit mental on us,” Major said. “The effect was too much.”
The 49ers’ struggles are also showing up at the box office, where the average attendance is 5,048 (4,108 against Middle Tennessee). That’s on track for the lowest since Halton opened in 1996.
Earlier this week, Major said the smaller crowds didn’t affect the team and was not something he was concerned with.
“I don’t know about it,” he said. “Unless they want me to go by the shopping malls and put handbills on windshields, I’m going to focus on our guys. That’s out of my league, out of my expertise.”
Alumni game set: The 49ers alumni game is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Saturday at Halton. Among the former 49ers scheduled to play or appear:
Dan Bannister, Reggie Barnes, Ben Basinger, Robert Earl Blue, Jack Bolly, Todd Crowley, Norris Dae, Eric Duncan, Chris Dwiggins, Cass Ferguson, Harrison Finklea, Scott Fitzgibbons, Tremaine Gardiner, Butch Gilbert, Travis Gordon, B. Stanley Graham, Ray Gromlowicz, Richard Guffy, Gary Gummerson, Jon Heath, Roderick Howard, George Jackson, Jimmy James, Kay Kinch (wife of Chad Kinch), Kevin King, Phil Mattox, Matt Messina, Carroll Mizelle, Brad Mulkey, Jermain Parker, Sean Phaler, Lee Rose, Jonathan Shaw, Spencer Singleton, Ron Stallings, Michael Stikeleather, David Taylor, Pat Taylor, Bershuan Thompson, George Walker, Mike Washington, Roy Wells, Lee Whitfield, Keith Williams, Irvin Williamson.
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