Time and Date: 7 PM ET, October 1
Broadcast Network: ESPN+
Location: Brooks Stadium - Conway, SC
ESPN FPI: Coastal Carolina, 61.8%
Line: Coastal Carolina -9.5*
Point Total: O/U 65*
All-Time Series: Georgia Southern leads all-time series, 5-3. Coastal won the most recent contest 28-8 in 2021.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Georgia Southern Outlook
Georgia Southern played fairly well in a two-score victory over a visiting Ball State last week, and has matched its win total from 2021 just four games into this year’s campaign. The Eagles will arguably face their toughest test of the season when they head to square off with perennial Sun Belt title contender Coastal Carolina this Saturday.
The Eagles have struggled against the Chanticleers in the last two meetings, despite not have to face off against Coastal star quarterback Grayson McCall to this point in his college career. From a statistical perspective, Southern’s defense has been atrocious through four contests, surrendering 429.8 yards per game, good for 110th in the country thus far.
If Southern wants even a remote chance of coming away with a win in this one, the defense has to be better than it has been up to this point in the season to shut down McCall and company. Up front, the Eagles must be tougher as well, as the Chants are rushing for an average of 200 yards per game as a team, an area that killed GS against UAB just a few weeks ago.
Offensively, Southern got back on track against the Cardinals last week after looking rough against the Blazers, and will need to take advantage of Coastal’s pass-funnel defense, which allows opponents to throw for an average of 274 yards per contest.
Quarterback Kyle Vantrease will need to eliminate any costly mistakes throwing the ball, as Coastal’s offense is a threat to score each time it takes the field, and the Eagles defense needs all the help it can get, not registering a strong outing against an FBS opponent yet this year.
Coastal Carolina Outlook
The Chanticleers had a strange start to the season after coming in as pre-season favorites to be one of the top teams in the Sun Belt. Small victories against teams like FCS Gardner Webb (31-27) gave me a bit of pause after picking them to win the conference, but Coastal seems to have gotten back on track in the win over Georgia State last Thursday.
McCall is obviously the engine that makes the team go, having thrown for an average of 250 yards per game through the air with an 11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
In short: He doesn’t make mistakes very often.
One area viewers should keep an eye on is if the star signal-caller has his typical mobility after leaving last week’s win over the Panthers early with an ankle injury. Head coach Jamie Chadwell remarked after that game that his QB could have gone back in if needed, but he elected to keep McCall out anyway.
Defensively, the Chants have been much better against the run (74 YPG allowed) than against the pass thus far this year. The bad news is that Georgia Southern has become more comfortable slinging the rock with its new offensive scheme than in years past, and may see Vantrease put up 50-60 attempts without blinking.
Star cornerback D’Jordan Strong is expected to play in this contest, and provides a big boost to a Coastal defense that will need all the help it can get against a high-flying Eagles passing attack.
Coastal has come away with the win against Southern in the last two meetings, despite not having McCall available due to injury. While the Eagles are much improved from their dreadful showing last year, I believe it is a stretch to forecast an upset win with the way the defense has looked in 2022.
I think having McCall under center negates any improvements GS has made since winning just three games last year.
Final Score: Coastal Carolina 38, Georgia Southern 24