Georgia Southern’s football program was a powerhouse at college football’s FCS (formerly Division 1-A) level for decades. When it was announced they were going to jump to FBS (Division 1-A) play, the expectations were that the Eagles would struggle.
The first three weeks have proved that Georgia Southern is able to be on the same field as anyone, no matter what level of college football.
Their record is 1-2, but the team has played better than what the losing record indicates. Georgia Southern relinquished fourth quarter leads in both of their losses, both to Power 5 conference foes in North Carolina State and Georgia Tech.
The other contest saw GSU put up 83 points against Savannah State in the Eagles’ lone home contest so far.
The Eagles led for 53 minutes against NC State, but the Wolfpack scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:43 remaining in the game. GSU shocked former coach Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech out of the gates, storming to a 35-10 lead before a relentless rally by the Yellow Jackets.
Had GSU held on in both contests, it’s possible that the newest member of elite college football would have received votes in this week’s polls.
There are several adjustments a school has to make when they make the move from FCS to FBS. The number of allowed scholarship players increases dramatically. FBS programs are allowed to have 85 players on scholarship at one time. A second factor is the finances. Georgia Southern is a new member of the Sun Belt Conference, which brings in significantly more money than their old conference, the Southern Conference.
The third factor is the depth most teams have, which coincides with the number of scholarships. This may have been a reason that the Eagles failed to hold the lead against NC State.
Georgia Southern’s triple-option offense is a rare breed in today’s college football. Only Army, Navy, and Georgia Tech run the old style of offense, but it’s difficult to stop if executed correctly. Besides the three options to run the ball, throwing the ball could also be effective against a defense geared to stop the run.
Through three weeks, GSU is second in the country in rushing yards, first in rushing touchdowns, and 12th overall in total offense.
Georgia Southern University is located in Stateboro, Georgia and is led by first year coach Willie Fritz. The Eagles have won six FCS championships and appeared in eight championship games overall, both FCS records.
They accompanied SoCon rival Appalachian State to the Sun Belt conference this season, so their rivalry will continue at the FBS level.
Georgia Southern will play its first conference game in the Sun Belt this Saturday when they travel to South Alabama, another program who is fairly new to the FBS scene. In order to achieve a respectable 2-2 state, the Eagles will have to avoid looking ahead to their next game, which will be five days later, against the before-mentioned Appalachian State Mountaineers.
The Eagles have proved their worth at college football’s highest level and the big boys should take notice if they don’t want to lose to a “Little Sister of the Poor.”