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What If Series: Could Georgia Southern and Appalachian State Rule Conference USA?

The Eagles and Mountaineers made quite the debut in their first year of Sun Belt competition. What if they'd been invited to C-USA instead?

Todd Bennett/Getty Images

One must wonder just how close Conference USA was to offering Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, or both a spot in the league back in 2013. Who knows, maybe they did and the schools weren't interested, or only wanted to move to FBS as a package deal that C-USA wasn't willing to accept.

Already it stands to reason the two bring more to the table than, say, UNC-Charlotte. Would the conference have invited GSU and ASU if it could see the future of their FBS success? App in particular was long rumored to be holding out for an invite to Conference USA before settling on the Sun Belt.

We'll never know what would have happened, but we can definitely give in to rampant speculation (after all, this is college football right?). At this point I don't see how joining C-USA would benefit App State or Southern, especially if only one went and the rivalry was lost, but it's a fact that the conference has historically poached from the Sun Belt and not the other way around.

In any case, as part of our June "What If" month series, we'll be using What if Sports' game simulator to take a stab at how 2014 could have gone for each team in C-USA.

In our simulated season, both Southern and App will play Middle Tennessee's 2014 schedule since that's a somewhat comparable team that recently left the Sun Belt. We'll replace the Memphis game with the Eagles and Mountaineers playing each other, because they're rivals and that has to happen, so the Eagles start 1-0 (bragging rights y'all). Lastly, the site lets you simulate the game as many times as you want, but for our purposes the first is the only one that counts.

Georgia Southern vs. C-USA: Fight!

First up is SSU, a real-life 2014 "opponent" the Eagles crushed by an embarrassing 83-9 score. Savannah State can't be simulated because the site doesn't include FCS teams (reason number 1,648,356 that moving up was such an awesome idea). We'll leave it at 83-9.

Next is Big 10 opponent Minnesota. Do the Eagles get their second straight win over a P5?

Not quite. Grrrrrr. I'm already thinking this site is rigged.

All right next up is Western Kentucky, the only team to beat Marshall last year and the 2015 C-USA favorite.

Apart from a really prolific second quarter Southern apparently gets shut out by a team that gave up 50 to Middle Tennessee last year. The simulator does seem to know about our extra point issues though.

Next up is the App State win, pulling Georgia Southern to an even 2-2. Then comes Old Dominion, a rematch of the epic 2012 FCS playoff game.

This time the Eagles come out with a narrow win, pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback just as they did in 2012. Seems a little low scoring but I'll take it.

Then comes Southern Miss at home, which would be a sweet real-life matchup.

WAAAAAAAY up I feel blessed. After surrendering two early touchdowns Georgia Southern gets to 4-2 with a blowout over the Golden Eagles.

At the midpoint of the season a showdown with the Marshall Thundering Herd awaits.

Oooooooh so close. Giving up 21 in the first quarter won't cut it against C-USA's best.

Let's see how things go at home against Bill Clark's UAB Blazers (#freeUAB #fireRayWatts).

Yea that's not good. I'd like to see UAB hold the nation's #1 rushing offense to just 14 points, especially by such a strange combination of two field goals and a two-point conversion touchdown.

For the record, the simulator had UAB scoring a touchdown in the first quarter with a missed PAT, followed by two field goals in the second, one in the fourth and the game's only regular old 7-pointer in the third. Georgia Southern is now 4-4 on the year.

After a bye week, Brigham Young heads to Paulson Stadium and hopefully doesn't start a fight.

Things are really going south now (no pun intended) as the Eagles fall to 4-5. No word on who won the simulated brawl.

Let's see how things go in Miami against FIU.

A harder-than-it-looks victory gets us back to .500. Season's almost over and here comes the last home game against FAU.

Really y'all? A real-life 9-3 Georgia Southern can't beat Howard Schnellenberger's retirement job? Whatevs, onto the finale out in El Paso.

The season ends with a whimper as this ridiculously stupid, so unrealistic I hate it simulator has Georgia Southern finishing 5-7 and losing five of their last six.

App State vs. C-USA

The 2014 Mountaineers must be hard on a simulator since they played as two different teams, a complete joke that lost to an FCS squad early on and a world beater who handled two of the Sun Belt's best to end the year.

We'll gift them a blowout over Savannah State. On to Minnesooota.

Something about App State and northern teams eh? Jerry Kill is apparently no match for Jerry Moore's former team as the Mountaineers take the Gophers to the woodshed.

How do the mountain men fare against WKU?

App State is now 3-0 and the talk of the nation as College Gameday mentions the upstarts and a few rogue voters put them in their top 25.

Unfortunately, they follow that up with a loss on the road to arch rival Georgia Southern. Sorry guys, national attention over.

Next is a relatively short road trip to ODU.

We may be witnessing a market correction as App State comes back to earth against the Monarchs. At 3-2, it's time for a home date against Southern Miss.

This is probably a bad time to point out that real-life App lost to Southern Miss on the road 21-20 last year. I know, I know, home field is totally worth 43 points.

Marshall time.

UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! The Mountaineers of Appalachian State have beaten the Marshall Thundering Herd! The Mountaineers of Appalachian state have beaten the Marshall Thundering Herd!

(Psssst. This is the same week actual App State lost to Liberty at home.)

At 6-2 the Mountaineers are now bowl eligible with four games to spare, or would be bowl-eligible if not for the two-year transition period, if that exists in this alternate universe.

After a bye week, BYU comes to "The Rock."

BYU puts a damper on App's dream season but it has no impact on the C-USA standings. After a second open date the final stretch starts with FIU.


and UTEP.

So the 2014 C-USA App State finishes 7-5, the same as the 2014 Sun Belt App State. However, this version begins the season hot and ends on a low note rather than the other way around.

Tune in next week when we find out if Georgia State would still go winless in Conference USA and all of the other FBS conferences.*

*We're not really doing this.