Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST, Sept. 10
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Weather: 64 degrees and partly cloudy
Betting Line: Nebraska -23.5, O/U 62.5
Records: Georgia Southern 1-0, Nebraska 1-1
TV: Fox Sports 1
Georgia Southern Outlook
Last week was a good start to the season for Clay Helton’s new Georgia Southern squad, which looked to air out the ball early and often in a 59-7 rout of FCS Morgan State. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease threw for 367 yards and four scores in the blowout win, notching the program’s most passing yards since 2008 in the victory.
As I said in the recap of last Saturday’s game, the Eagles need to do two things much better if they want to stand a chance against the Cornhuskers this Saturday. The team needs to both run the football at a better clip than it did against the Bears (just 4.4 yards per carry as a team) and start much faster. It will be incredibly difficult to bank on another second half resurgence for the second week in a row.
Defensively, the Eagles were stout in nearly all phases. The unit did not allow a single point, with Morgan State’s only score coming on a pick-six thrown by Vantrease. Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson has a penchant for throwing errant passes with just 3 touchdowns to as many interceptions through two contests, so standout cornerback Derrick Canteen and company will need to be at their very best to help the offense with potential turnovers.
Needless to say, the deck is stacked against Southern in this one, and a lot will need to go right for the Eagles to pull off the longshot upset.
As I said above, Thompson has had a rough start to the season, reflecting how the Scott Frost era (or error) has played out thus far. In its first two contests, the team blew an 11-point lead to Northwestern in Ireland as a heavy favorite in week zero, and then took nearly four full quarters to put away FCS North Dakota last week, 38-17. If that win looks impressive on paper, keep in mind the Fighting Hawks had tied the game at 17 with four minutes left in the 3rd before Nebraska eventually pulled away.
So far this season, the Cornhuskers biggest offensive playmakers have come in the form of running back Anthony Grant (145 yards and two scores per game) and receiver Trey Palmer (75 yards receiving per game). The Eagles will need to once again play tough defense both against Grant and Palmer in order to pick up an unlikely win this week.
Defensively, Big Red has not been very sharp at all, whether against the run or pass. The Huskers are surrendering an average of 417 yards per game through contests against Northwestern and North Dakota, and has the team currently sitting as the 87th best total defense in the country.
Let’s hope the trend of Nebraska struggling against teams with directions in their school name continues on Saturday.
As much as it seems like Nebraska is primed to be upset with some ugly wins thus far, I think Georgia Southern’s offensive scheme is still too fresh and has some kinks that need to be ironed out.
However, from a betting perspective, a 23.5 line for the Huskers feels like way too many points. I think the Eagles keep it relatively close but fall just short in the upset department.
Final Score: Nebraska 27, Georgia Southern 21