Start Time: 3 p.m. EST, Dec. 23
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
Weather: It’s a dome.
Records: Georgia Southern (7-5); Louisiana Tech (5-4)
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -6.5; O/U 49.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
It’s been a turbulent season for the team from Statesboro, and the season finale is finally here. A majorly banged-up Eagles team will look to end their late season skid with a win over Louisiana Tech in the first-ever meeting between the teams.
This one wholly comes down to which (if any) quarterbacks are still available to play for Southern. Normal starter Shai Werts has been nursing a shoulder injury since the contest against Georgia State on November 28th, but has been taking reps in practice as of late.
His backup, Justin Tomlin, was injured in the season finale against rival Appalachian State and has since had surgery and will not be available for this game.
If it is once again the Miller Mosley show as we saw in the finale against App, this one could get ugly. Mosley is not a fit for this offense by any stretch, and the team was clearly limited in what plays they could call against the Mountaineers.
Freshman Sam Kenerson may be a better call if Werts is not available for this game or gets knocked out early with that nagging shoulder.
The team will also be looking to depend upon a plethora of rushers in the absence of J.D. King (ACL injury) and Wesley Kennedy III (indefinite suspension). Logan Wright has done a solid job filling in for King, but Kennedy’s absence truly cannot be understated in what it meant to this team. He truly was a lightning rod for a stagnant offense that looked lost while former OC Bob DeBesse was at the helm.
Defensively, while the front-seven has done a solid job stopping the run and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the secondary swings between being a great group and a sieve depending on the series.
Stopping the passing game of the Bulldogs will be the main test for the Eagles defense, as Tech only averages 97 rushing yards per game this season.
Louisiana Tech Outlook
Both of these teams are reflections of each other in their respective conferences, as Tech has turned in an up-and-down season as much as Southern has.
COVID derailed the Bulldogs’ season midway through, as LT went all the way from October 31st to December 3rd without suiting up and taking the field.
When Tech did get to play, they fell to some very solid opponents in BYU, Marshall, TCU and UTSA, and functioned much like a measuring stick for all other teams in Conference USA.
This game will not only provide Louisiana Tech a chance to end its season on a high note, but also to win its seventh-consecutive bowl game under head coach Skip Holtz.
The heart of this offense lies in the passing game, as quarterback Luke Anthony had put together a solid 2020 campaign. The signal-caller tossed 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions this year, and nearly 1,500 yards.
However, after sustaining a gruesome leg injury in the season finale at TCU, Aaron Allen will presumably step in at QB for the Bulldogs, having thrown 4 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions this season.
Louisiana Tech also has spread the wealth a bit in the receiving game, as four different pass catchers have hauled in 15 or more balls this year, led by Smoke Harris (35 receptions, 285 yards, 4 TD).
Running back Israel Tucker has provided Tech with a threat on the ground, rushing for 525 yards at 4.1 yards per carry, along with four scores on the ground.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have been lacking a bit both in their run and pass defense, ceding 425 yards per game with much of that coming through the air. Although LT has been better against the rush than the pass, they are still allowing teams to run for 185 yards per contest which might be a bad sign against an Eagles team looking to take chunks of time off of the clock.
Tech’s Tyler Grubbs will need to be at his best to help slow down the Southern attack, as the linebacker leads the team this season with 87 total tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss this season.
Honestly if Luke Anthony were starting this game, I would pick Louisiana Tech just due to the uncertainty around Georgia Southern’s quarterback situation. But in a game where we might see two different backups (including a third-stringer) take the field, I’ll stick with the Vegas betting favorite without knowing who will suit up under center for the Eagles.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 27, Louisiana Tech 20