Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST, Oct. 25
Location: Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Records: Georgia Southern (6-1, 3-0 Sun Belt), No. 25 Appalachian State (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt)
Weather: 65 degrees at kickoff, 40 percent chance of rain
Betting Line: Appalachian State -9.5, O/U 47.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
This season’s matchup between Georgia Southern and Appalachian State may have the most implications both conference-wide and nationally than the previous 33 contests between the two teams.
The Mountaineers come into Paulson Stadium ranked nationally at #25, and both teams are eyeing a potential bid to represent the Sun Belt East in the conference title game, while Troy is still working out all the kinks without starting quarterback Kaleb Barker.
I have been beating this drum all year, and this will be the first time I would like to see the Eagles adjust. Since the beginning of the season, GS has come out of the gate slow offensively and offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse has not helped things with his incredibly conservative play calling early on in games.
This will be the game that determines how quickly DeBesse and company are able to adjust, as it is hard to imagine a world where App will just lay off for 2+ quarters of action and allow the Eagles to cut it on in time for the third quarter.
One of the few troubling aspects of last week’s victory at New Mexico State is how slow the defense started as well for Southern. After letting the Aggies just walk down the field on the first two drives, the Eagles’ D stacked up and stopped NMSU from doing much of anything the rest of the game. Neither side of the ball will be able to cakewalk through half of the game against an App team that is ranked 25th in the country.
Shai Werts and company will need to play its cleanest game of the season and have the play calling support them instead of putting them in poor 3rd and longs early in the game. Too many times against NMSU was the offense just told to run a deep pass play on 3rd and 8 only to have Werts bail the team out with a timely run. The Eagles can’t have any of that should it want a chance to win in this one.
Oh, and Wesley Kennedy III needs to actually be involved in the offense. Heavily.
Appalachian State Outlook
Well here we are another big time showdown between the Mountaineers and the Eagles. This go round Appalachian State is ranked 25th in the nation. Any time these two programs get together expect the unexpected because these two former FCS powers know how to play football.
Running back Darrynton Evans rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns a week ago against UL and assured everyone that he is very capable of handling the biggest part of the workload in the backfield. Zac Thomas didn't have his best day as he was 10/20 passing for 106 yards with a score and a pick, but heavy winds played a role in the decision to not throw the deep ball as much in the contest.
The defense has been lights out and has been the foundation this team can stand on. Southern brings a different dynamic than the average run game. The triple option is always tough to prepare for even more so on a short week. Akeem Davis Gaither and Jordan Fehr will be key cogs to watch along with Myquon Stout on the front line.
Brian: I think on paper that Appalachian State is a very, very good team. I also think Georgia Southern could be that good if they played consistently on both sides of the ball. For at least one night I think GS puts it all together and doesn’t take its opponent lightly for two or more quarters and Southern squeaks out a tight 31-27 win at home under the Thursday night lights.
Aikman: App has so much to play for this week on the backs of a big shining light for this program and the strides it continues to make waves at the FBS level. Expect a dog fight but App knows it still has big things to prove. 24-21 App State.