For the first time in nearly two years, the Georgia Southern Eagles can find themselves with a winning record should they get past the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Saturday.
But who are we kidding. At this point in the year everyone’s just happy to see an actual pigskin flying through the air, end-over-end or otherwise. There’s a game at Paulson Stadium this Saturday, and that’s good enough for me.
Start Time: 6:05 p.m. EST, Saturday, Sept. 1
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Georgia
TV/Streaming: ESPN+, with Greg Talbott providing play by play and Danny Waugh as analyst
Records: Georgia Southern (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt), SCSU (0-0, 0-0 MEAC)
Weather: 86 degrees at kickoff, 6 MPH winds, partly cloudy, 4 percent chance of rain
Betting Line: Officially none, although this site lists GS as a 27-point favorite with an over/under of 45
Georgia Southern Outlook
It looks like football season.
As we said previously, there’s nowhere to fly but up for the Eagles. South Carolina State may be an underwhelming opening day opponent, but the Bulldogs present a great chance for GS to work out any issues with the new offense and get halfway to matching last year’s win total in the process.
Head coach Chad Lunsford said the transition into Bob DeBesse’s scheme is coming along nicely, with players settling into the terminology and beginning to get into a rhythm. They’ll test all of that out against their HBCU opposition this weekend.
GS has released its week one depth chart which, among other things, lists Colby Ransom and Mark Michaud as starters at receiver ahead of Darion Anderson and Obe Fortune. Look for Wesley Kennedy III to return both kickoffs (provided any are returned) and punts.
Shai Werts is of course the starter at quarterback, and will receive plenty of scrutiny regardless of the outcome. Redshirt freshman Brian Miller gets the nod at right tackle, while Logan Wright has won the third-string running back slot behind Wesley Fields and Monteo Garrett. It has also been revealed that DeBesse will call plays from the booth rather than being on the field.
Other than that, your guess is as good as mine. It’s a new era on Eagle Creek and we’ll have a whole lot more to talk about come Sunday morning.
South Carolina State Outlook
This will be the eighth time Georgia Southern has faced the Orangeburg Bulldogs. The Eagles sit 7-0 in the series and should make it 8-0 this weekend.
The teams last met in the 2010 playoffs, with the Eagles running away with an easy 41-16 victory. Those were better days for both squads. SCSU went just 3-7 in 2017, after going 5-6 in 2016 and 7-4 in 2015. In other words, the Bulldogs have been making the opposite of progress the last three years.
Head coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough has been at South Carolina State since 2002, though he does roll into Paulson with a new offensive coordinator in the form of Bennett Swygert.
Tyrece Nick is expected to start at quarterback ahead of last year’s no. 1, Atlanta native Dewann Ford, who started nine games last year and may see time in this game as well in SCSU’s pass-first offense.
Either way, it should not give GS too much trouble, especially given the Eagles’ strong secondary unit. Not only that, SCSU faces UCF in week two. That’s a daunting task that may linger somewhere in the minds of SCSU’s players, making an already difficult task that much harder.
Sun Belt fans are familiar with guarantee games, and this is the same thing in reverse. Georgia Southern has won 20 straight home games against non-conference opponents. Fans will tailgate all day long, see old friends, honk when the school buses roll into the parking lot and enjoy and easy win to begin September.
Prediction: Georgia Southern 28, South Carolina State 10.