Start Time: 1 p.m. EST, Nov. 10
Location: Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Records: Georgia Southern (7-2, 4-1 Sun Belt), Troy (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt)
Weather: 58 degrees at kickoff
Betting Line: Troy -1.5, O/U 45
Georgia Southern Outlook
There’s no other way to spin it, last week’s 44-25 drubbing at the hands of UL-Monroe was flat-out embarrassing.
After most people thinking the Eagles had exorcised the demons from the Tyson Summers era, the team relapsed and looked absolutely awful in the loss to the Warhawks, and now face its second huge test of the season with Troy heading into Statesboro.
It is tough to predict which Georgia Southern team chooses to show up this week — the team that thumped rival No. 25 Appalachian State on national television, or the one who finally had its Achilles’ heel of slow starts exploited for the first time all season last week?
Either way, the team needs to be better in all three phases. The offense needs to get into its bag of chunk plays early and the offensive line needs to actually show up, the defense should look to limit Trojans’ quarterback Sawyer Smith from just chucking the ball down the field at will, and Tyler Bass will need to hit the gimme field goals from up close.
Shai Werts has to play better than he did last week, when he amassed all of three yards on 12 rushing attempts and looked apprehensive in taking the ball on option reads and runs to the outside.
GS is good but doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring some of its big-play guys in this one. Wesley Kennedy III needs to be involved early and often in both the rushing and passing game if the team wants a chance to be crowned as the best of the Sun Belt East.
After stumbling in Sawyer Smith’s first start of the season at Liberty, Troy seems to have corrected its issues and comes into this contest on a two-game streak and having defeated Louisiana most recently by a score of 26-16.
Smith has picked up where injured QB Kaleb Barker left off in giving the Trojans a real passing attack, tossing four touchdowns to just one interception over the past two weeks and giving the defense a chance to play from ahead and force turnovers.
Running back B.J. Smith has proven to be no slouch either, and Troy has been exceptionally balanced this year as a result, with 212 passing yards per game and 202 yards per game on the ground.
Even with a blowout loss at Boise State to open the season, Troy’s defense has been superb, giving opponents just 22 points per game, a remarkably similar number to Georgia Southern’s 21.4 points allowed per contest.
Hunter Reese is the main pass-rusher for the team from Alabama, having earned 5.5 sacks this year, but will need to most likely turn his focus towards shutting down the rushing attack of the Eagles if they want to win this one. That task has not been tough for the Trojans, as the team is giving up just 126 yards per game rushing to opponents.
Troy has clearly found a formula that works since falling to Liberty on Oct. 13, and Georgia Southern will need to bring its ‘A-game’ if it wants a chance to win this one.
I think last week’s Eagles loss was a side-effect of looking ahead to this game and I expect them to be prepared after being outplayed by the Warhawks. I think this one will be close but GS has not fallen at home yet this season and is a different team on the road. Give me Georgia Southern by a 31-26 final score.