This is it y'all, it's the real one, the end-all, the be-all, winner take all, knock-down (the goalposts), drag-out (and ram 'em through a team bus), Eagle Creek Water chugginest, put a crack in the Rockinest, most hotly anticipated better take off work and tailgate seven hours, all-out best matchup OF ALL TIME in the Sun Belt this season.
Get the popcorn ready.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST, Thursday, Oct. 22
Location: Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, North Carolina
Radio: Georgia Southern here, App State here
Records: Georgia Southern (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt), App State (5-1, 2-0)
Forecast: Clear skies, 60 degrees at kickoff falling to around 50 by game's end
Betting Line: App State -6, Over/Under of 63
Appalachian State Outlook: The Mountaineers had more questions coming into 2015 than their southern rivals, but they've quickly put those away with a 5-1 start. Last week's game against ULM looked to be a contest when App went down 17-14, instead they reeled off 42 unanswered for another easy V.
You could say Appalachian is Hot Hot Hot.
Like Georgia Southern, a P5 blowout stands against five big wins against conference and lower-division foes.
Reputations die hard and casual follows might still think of the spread when it comes to App State. This is now a run-first team. The Eagles lead the nation in rushing; App is 10th. Exhibit A: The Mountaineers rushed 50 times last week, led by dynamic running back Marcux Cox, while QB Taylor Lamb threw just 15 passes.
The tough part is when they do pass it's highly effective. Lamb sports 15 touchdowns against 5 interceptions with 9.6 yards per attempt. Lamb will be looking to avenge more than just last year's loss. His father, Bobby Lamb, quarterbacked the Furman Paladins to a defeat against Georgia Southern in the 1985 I-AA national title game.
Lamb is also App's third-leading rusher with 234 yards on the ground. Overall, the Mountaineers lead the conference with 2,941 offensive yards, with the Eagles second at 2,791.
Defense has been a strong point for the Mountaineers to say the least. Exhibit B: They've allowed four touchdowns in the last four games while scoring three themselves (hat tip to our App State writer Thomas Sherrill for the info). App's D gives up just 109 yards per game and 3.2 per carry, good for 11th in the nation. They'll need every bit of that Thursday night.
Other stuff: App State defensive back and team captain Doug Middleton was ejected from the ULM game for targeting. Because it happened in the first half he'll be available. More on that later. Elsewhere, center Jesse Chapman is listed as probable.
Kidd Brewer Stadium is not an easy place to play. While it won't be all that cold it will be way up in the mountains with a crazed crowd all dressed in black and ready to pounce.
Georgia Southern Outlook: Head Coach Willie Fritz was asked postgame about rushing for 507 yards against New Mexico State. I couldn't help but laugh when his response included, "that's difficult to do."
Understatement of the year. Then again, its become old hat for the Eagles. They gashed App State for 408 last season and ran up more than 600 against Georgia State.
What Southern hasn't done well is balance. Quarterback Kevin Ellison's throw to Wesley Fields last week was the first Georgia Southern passing score in more than a calendar year, which is incredible considering the team's 8-2 record in that span. Fritz keeps calling passes looking to add a new dimension, largely to no avail.
But when you've got Matt Breida, you don't really need to pass. Watch him close the gap on his quarterback to throw a block on this TD run:
Ellison ain't slow y'all.
On paper, App holds the edge on defense. Southern is 39th in total defense, while App ranks fifth. Let's hope (well, depending on your perspective) that's not the difference in the game.
Other stuff: Two Eagle linebackers were ejected for targeting against NMSU: Ironhead Gallon and William Bussey. Because their plays happened in the second half, they'll be out the first half of this game. I won't get into my personal feelings about that, but it makes absolutely no sense and the rule needs to be revised.
Also, Senior safety Matt Dobson is questionable for the game.
Both the Eagles and Mountaineers sport a defender with five interceptions (Antonio Glover for GSU, Latrell Gibbs for App), tied for third nationally.
Is it the de facto Sun Belt title game? Let's put it this way: These teams are 19-2 in conference play since joining the Sun Belt. One of those losses came when they played each other last year.
Prediction: I have no idea who's going to win this game and neither do you. It's a rivalry and a weeknight game with two largely untested programs.
That said, until something changes you've gotta go with the known entity. Take the defending champion Eagles and the points in what, apparently, is a mild upset.