Start Time: 6 p.m. EST, Sept. 25
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Weather: 78 degrees, 3 mph winds
Betting Line: Louisiana -14; O/U 53.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
While Georgia Southern the last few years has gotten off to some slow starts to begin the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, this season feels different.
And not in a good way.
Both of those teams had strong leadership, especially at the quarterback position, and it always felt like the Eagles were playing down early in the season in those years but would pick it back up when it mattered.
Flashing forward to 2021, neither of those previous squads took a 32-point shellacking to start the season at the hands of another Group of Five team either. This year’s team is also much less talented than the teams of years’ past, doubly so at key positions like QB on offense and linebacker on defense.
Heading into a matchup with a top-3 team in the conference, even at home, feels like a Sisyphean task considering how this season has started. The offense looks disjointed, no matter who is behind center or taking handoffs, the offensive line is still showing the same issues it has for the past few years with not knowing who to block and the secondary/linebacking corps look clueless on opponents’ passing attempts.
This Eagles team has scored a combined 16 points over its previous two contests. FCS team Mercer scored 14 against #1 Alabama in week two. There’s no way to reasonably defend that statistic.
Now GS gets to face one of the most explosive offenses in the Sun Belt to open conference play.
In my early season preview, I forecasted that this team would go 6-6. I said as long as this team showed improvement throughout the season, Lunsford’s job would be relatively safe. This season was all supposed to be about growth, not results. So far Southern has shown little-to-nothing in either of those departments and appear to be a 3 or 4 win team unless something changes ASAP.
Again, this season feels different, so I’m not exactly betting my life that this happens, and I’m not confident at this rate that Lunsford gets another year to figure it out.
The Ragin Cajuns come into this contest after back-to-back wins over rather inferior competitions. The first of the two was very nearly a loss as well. Anyway, Billy Napier has his group rolling into conference play 2-1 and looking to continue their winning ways over the Eagles of Georgia Southern.
This game is going to be a battle of attrition. Both programs are, for lack of better words, awful at converting 3rd down. Louisiana ranks 82nd and Georgia Southern 114th nationally in that regard, and 3rd down defense is far worse, believe it or not. The Cajuns rank 123rd and the Eagles 127th nationally at stopping teams on 3rd down through the first three weeks.
The Cajuns are looking forward to getting Ferrod Gardner back from injury this week at linebacker as well as Errol Rogers Jr at wide receiver. Also, Louisiana is expected to feature a heavy dose of freshman Montrell Johnson at running back after his monster 4 TD performance last week against Ohio.
The Cajuns are undefeated against the Eagles, but the environment of Paulson Stadium will play a large factor into the contest this year and I expect it to be a much closer game than most people think.
Brian: In years’ past, I would say this team could put it together and get up for this game. But I’m starting to doubt the talent level more than their level of focus in game preparation. I don’t think anyone outside of the most optimistic fans truly believes that Georgia Southern can pull the upset. I’m never been one for blowing smoke just to give people a sense of false hope, so I will give my honest prediction.
Louisiana 35, Georgia Southern 17
Matt: These two teams are both going to be out for blood in order to make a statement to open their respective conference slates. I expect both teams to play strong, fast, physical football and make it an exciting contest, but the Cajuns will be just too much for Georgia Southern to handle in the end.
Louisiana 42, Georgia Southern 28