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Georgia Southern Takes the 'U' and the 'W' in Win Over Georgia State

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In a game at least six years in the making, Georgia Southern smashed Georgia State 69-31 and broke the Sun Belt record for rushing yards in the inaugural "Battle for the U."

Daniel Shirey

Georgia Southern scored at will in a 69-31 win over Georgia State Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.

The Eagles (6-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) broke the Sun Belt rushing record with 613 yards on the ground and ran for all 10 of their touchdowns.

The Panthers (1-7, 0-5) got blown out but didn't go without their own highlights. Nick Arbuckle threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns, all of them to Donovan Harden, who finished with 186 yards on 11 receptions. However, "Favrebuckle" did throw an interception and lose a fumble on the afternoon.

Southern led by just 10 at the half, 27-17, though the outcome never seemed in doubt. Not to take anything away from State's impressive passing game, but when the Eagles were on offense it looked like a P5 school taking on a member of the FCS.  You could fit the yellow school buses through some of the holes. Matt Breida took the opening play of the second half 75 yards for a score off an option pitch from Kevin Ellison. Breida scored again seven minutes later to put the game away at 41-17.

Breida was asked afterward if he felt like Southern took the 'U' back. His calm response began with "I felt like we did."

The defensive highlight for Southern was against the run. State finished with 47 yards rushing, 2 per carry, and went with four or even five receiver sets on almost every play after the first quarter.

The Eagles significantly stretched their lead as the top rushing offense nationally with 3,217 yards overall. Second place Navy sits at 2,395 with a game in hand.

Ellison turned in 115 yards rushing for a touchdown and was five of six passing for 47 yards. LA Ramsby threw in 92 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Walker, Ean Days and Dennis Pritchard added one score each. The Eagles averaged 9.7 yards per carry.

Paulson Stadium North

Georgia Southern Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein estimated 12,000 tickets were sold to fans of his school. The announced attendance of 28,427 was the second highest of all time for Georgia State, trailing only the team's first-ever game, though the actual attendance was 17,302. I think 12,000 is about right for Southern as it looked like somewhere between 2:1 and 3:1 Eagles to Panthers.

Word is the Paulson North banner was also Kleinlein's idea.

Eagle Extras

Room to grow: While Southern fans Hate State and won't stop any time soon, it is nice to have a game in Atlanta to look forward to every other year.

State plans to buy Turner Field and convert it into a 30,000-seat football stadium. Here's to hoping that happens sooner than later. A crowd of 25,000 in a 75,000-seat stadium looks a little like a kid trying on his daddy's shoes. There were two fans in the upper deck. I counted to make sure. An outdoor venue will improve the gameday experience as well and a smaller stadium will give State games a more college-like atmosphere.

ESPN3: Announcing for ESPN3.com appears to be a favorite hobby of retired football coaches. Former Virginia coach Al Groh called Troy-Appalachian State last week. Saturday, long-time Fresno State coach Pat Hill called GSU-GSU (full disclosure: I've got a master's degree from that school).

Fresno State nearly became the first BCS buster in 2001 under Hill's leadership and he was almost as famous for his "anyone, anytime, anyplace" scheduling philosophy as he was for his mustache. Unfortunately, I'm told Hill still managed to refer to Georgia Southern as "Georgia State" during the broadcast, and once uttered the name "Erik Russell."

Flag on the Play:

These came out late in the game. Believe it or not, it was the loudest part of the entire day. I wasn't even paying attention because it happened during the break after a touchdown. Suddenly the crowd exploded, and there were the flags, complete with that all-important 'U.'

The best part of this actually came from the other side of the stadium. A State fan wearing a USA jacket promptly stood up and gave the double bird as high as he could until the letters went away.

"GSU" and "Whose House" chants filled the Georgia Dome throughout the fourth quarter.

Snarkastic: Heard on the Eagle radio broadcast late in the game: "Maybe the money drop will cheer them up."

Trivia: This was Southern's 300th win all-time.

And, in no particular  order, some entertaining Tweets:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>You did see a putty tat <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HailSouthern?src=hash">#HailSouthern</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SouthernNotState?src=hash">#SouthernNotState</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/edALWAYZwin">@edALWAYZwin</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MrAllPurpose4">@MrAllPurpose4</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/KingKShow">@KingKShow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/la_ramsby">@la_ramsby</a> <a href="http://t.co/O6I2qGVeYa">pic.twitter.com/O6I2qGVeYa</a></p>&mdash; Logan Gleaton (@LoganG1225) <a href="https://twitter.com/LoganG1225/status/526132726479728640">October 25, 2014</a></blockquote>

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