Start Time: 5:30 p.m. EST, Dec. 15
Location: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
Records: Georgia Southern (9-3), Eastern Michigan (7-5)
Weather: 54 degrees at kickoff, 11 mph winds
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -1, O/U 47.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
With a prime time spot on ESPN and a chance at 10 wins on the line, Georgia Southern will look to wrap its season on a high note in taking on Eastern Michigan this Saturday.
The Eagles (of the Southern-fried variety) closed its regular season campaign with two impressive wins at Coastal Carolina and Georgia State to bring its record to 9-3 and a chance to send its seniors like Wesley Fields off with a double-digit win season, which would be its first since Jeff Monken was at the helm back in 2012.
Ideally, this bowl game would turn out a lot like the GoDaddy Bowl in 2014 when GS routed its MAC opponent in Bowling Green by a score of 58-27.
Since then, Southern has fought through bowl-less seasons of 5-7 and 2-10 and will most likely be itching to show off its talent on a national stage once again.
Quarterback Shai Werts will once again pace the offense after capping off a great regular season in which he eclipsed 800 yards rushing, scoring 13 times and tossed an additional 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions.
The Eagles averaged 31.1 points per game on offense this season and 260 yards rushing per game thanks to its plethora of running backs led by Fields, Monteo Garrett and Wesley Kennedy III.
Hopefully, the team has found a recipe for success after outscoring its previous two opponents by a combined 76-31 and grinding away games on the ground. Chances are though, offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse won’t have as much success at pounding away between the tackles in this one and might even have to get a little creative with the play calling should EMU take away the inside read.
Eastern Michigan Outlook
2018 was a strange year for the Eagles (of the Michigan cherry variety) as the team was able to upset Purdue in week two to move to 2-0 and then promptly lost its next four games.
After a 2-4 start though, EMU regrouped and went 5-1 the rest of the season, although the teams it beat following the Purdue win were pretty middling.
When looking at the Eastern Michigan roster, nothing on the offensive side of the ball really jumps out as insanely impressive. Quarterback Tyler Wiegers only threw 11 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, just one more touchdown than a designated option QB like Werts did on 155 fewer attempts.
EMU wasn’t exactly tearing it up on the ground either, as leading rusher Shaq Vann finished the season with less than 600 yards and five touchdowns.
The defense was truly the backbone of whether Eastern was successful this season. In five losses, the defense allowed 29.6 points per game and in seven wins, the team gave up just 16.6 points to opponents.
EMU has some really nice defensive pieces like lineman Maxx Crosby, who finished the year with a team-high 7.5 sacks, and linebacker Kyle Rachwal who racked up 70 tackles, two interceptions and a pair of sacks.
If Eastern wants a chance to win this one, its defense will really need to step up and play a stellar game to keep Southern’s offense off the field and from grinding a ton of clock.
Like I said above, I think Southern will come out for this game hot and look to put up a ton of points early having missed out on a bowl the previous two seasons. I think Eastern will provide a tough test defensively early on, but this one will get a little more out of hand with GS’ running game late. I’ll take Georgia Southern by a score of 31-17.