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Posting ambitious picks for Eagles football season


August 03, 2018

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It is here! It is the last month before college football returns to bless all of us. The champagne showers by the Sigma Chi House, the yellow buses, Freedom’s flight, it will all return to us in one month. I cannot wait for this month to fly by, though truth be told, it will seem like the longest month possible because of the wonderful light at the end of the tunnel. But now I finally can dive into my season preview of the Eagles. In this month’s edition of Tailgate Tattler, I will be breaking down and providing my predictions for the first half of the season, which is the most crucial part in my opinion. Without a good foundation, the season will not take off.

South Carolina State: The last time Georgia Southern met with the Bulldogs of South Carolina State, Jaybo Shaw was the starting quarterback, with JJ Wilcox and Jerrick McKinnon also on the roster. SCSU comes to Paulson after a 3-6 season last fall, and will have several holes to fill, especially on the defense, as only half of their starters return. This will be an important game for the Eagles, as it is the first game of the season and will be the springboard into our schedule. If you can recall, the years Georgia Southern has started off with an FCS school, the signs have been somewhat telling. In the past, years where the Eagles have dropped 60+ points on FCS opponents (Savannah State in 2013 and 2014, along with some wins against Tusculum and St. Francis in the Monken era), the seasons have gone on to be successful. In games where the Eagles fail to hit the mark (Savannah State in 2016, New Hampshire in 2017) the season result has been telling. I look for the Eagles to soar in the opener at Paulson, 63-14.

UMass: UMass is coming to Paulson this year after last year’s beat-down they put on the Eagles during the “Battle of the 0-6,” 55-20. This was the monumental game when the coaching staff had a shakeup, and the Tyson Summers era came to an end. I believe that not only will the Eagles be looking for revenge, but also Coach Sloan, who was the DC for App State last year, who also lost to UMass a week after Georgia Southern. I think that Paulson is too electric and the Minuteman head back to Amherst with an L, Georgia Southern wins 42-24

Clemson: The Tigers of Clemson look strong as ever as Georgia Southern heads to Death Valley. Coach Dabo Swinney will have Kelly Bryant returning and looking for a fourth straight appearance in the college football playoff. The Eagles will once again travel into a P5 environment with the nation looking at this game as a “money” game for Clemson, but I see the Eagles being competitive throughout the game. At Auburn last year, the Eagles kept the game within the spread, but to me that was not competitive. Georgia Southern does have a history of keeping P5 fans quite uncomfortable, with NC State, Georgia Tech, Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama all being true testaments to this. I see Clemson winning the first matchup between the two teams 45-28 with a late Tiger touchdown to make this one seem a little more out of reach than the game actually is.

Arkansas State: The Red Wolves have been a thorn in the Eagles’ side for the past two years. The fellow Sun Belt foe has beaten us on national television two years in a row, on ESPN Wednesday night games. I am still haunted by the 4th-and-26 play that ultimately led to the Red Wolves’ victory. The Red Wolves’ return Justice Hansen, who was named to the Davey O’Brien watch list recently, with the hopes of continuing their air raid across the Sun Belt. Hansen has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and will clash with the running game of the Eagles. I do believe that the fact that Arkansas State has to come to Paulson for two years in a row will have an effect, and that the Eagles’ secondary will be up to the challenge of Hansen, and the Eagles win a thriller 28-24.

South Alabama: The Jaguars have been my personal favorite team to play in the Sun Belt. Why, you ask? Simple. We own them. The Jaguars gave Willie Fritz his first FBS conference win in 2014. In 2015 they came to Paulson and left with a 55-17 beat-down. In 2016, Tyson Summers beat them, enough said. And in 2017, they came to Paulson and allowed Coach Lunsford to walk all over them 52-0 and get his first win as head coach, as well as the Eagles’ first win of the season. On top of that, Mobile has some pleasant memories as being host to the GoDaddy Bowl. Needless to say, I believe that the Eagles will head down to Ladd-Peebles Stadium and jump all over the Jags 49-14.

Texas State: The Bobcats play host to Georgia Southern in San Marcos on national television, with the Thursday night matchup being on ESPNU. Texas State had a 2-10 record, and while the first reaction is to think 2-10 is not potent and worth being concerned about, remember our record. It has been two years since the teams met, and it too was on ESPNU on Thursday night. The Bobcats return most of their studs on the defensive side of the ball, and their “new” quarterback played in 10 games last year, so they will be very experienced. Last time the Eagles traveled to San Marcos, it was a Matt Dobson pick-6 that saved the day for the Eagles. I see this game as a close matchup, but the Eagles prevail 31-27.

So, as you can read, I see our Eagles being 5-1 through the first half of the season. Ambitious? Sure. If there is one game I could see going a different way it would be the Arkansas State game. But, even if so, the Georgia Southern Eagles have a real shot at being 4-2 with the back half of the season waiting. Stay tuned for next month, where I will break down the back half of the season, including matchups with Georgia State and App State.


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