Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan, 5:30 PM EST, Sat. December 15, ESPN
Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan pick:
Georgia Southern started off the regular season incredibly strong with a record of 7-1. Its lone blemish over that span came to Clemson, the #2 team in the nation. The school cooled off and dropped two of its final four, but a 9-win season is a solid feat nonetheless.
It was a different story for Eastern Michigan, a team which got out of the gate slow and stumbled to a mark of 2-4. However, the MAC squad would turn things around in the second half in dramatic fashion and win five of its final seven games.
|Georgia Southern||9-3||6-2||373||259||W2||3-SB East|
|Eastern Michigan||7-5||5-3||330||264||W3||2-MAC West|
Following the loss to Clemson, Georgia Southern ripped off an impressive five-game winning streak which would see them involved in only one close contest over that span, a two-point victory over Texas State. The air came out of the balloon a bit when the club dropped back-to-back games to ULM and Troy, but the club closed things out strong with two straight wins.
Eastern Michigan actually opened up the season with two wins, including a 20-19 victory on the road at Purdue, but the team would quickly fall on hard times and dropped four straight. It was looking like a lost season for the Eagles, but they woke up at the halfway mark. The team finished up by winning five of its final six, with its lone loss over that time frame coming to a tough Army team.
While we can give Georgia Southern the edge on offense, that comes with a big caveat. The team is a powerhouse on the run, but rather anemic when it comes to the pass. Eastern Michigan brings a much more balanced attack to the table. Defense is even on an overall basis, but Georgia Southern is stronger versus the run while Eastern Michigan has more strength versus the pass.
Pressure is also even, but there’s a big disparity in QB protection. As you would expect from such a stout running team, Georgia Southern has a solid line, but there are holes to be found in Eastern Michigan’s. Georgia Southern also gets the discipline edge with a notable 30+ penalty yard per game difference.
These two schools have never faced off, so we’ll have to rely on recent bowl history for some nuggets of information. Georgia Southern has only appeared in one other bowl game. That came back in 2015 when the team rolled to a 58-27 victory over Bowling Green in the Dollar General Bowl.
Eastern Michigan doesn’t have a noteworthy bowl history either, but the team did appear in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl, a 24-20 loss to Old Dominion. Prior to that, we have to go all the way back to 1987 to find its last appearance in a bowl, a 30-27 win over San Jose State in the California Bowl.
In last year’s edition of the Camellia Bowl, 3.5-point underdog Middle Tennessee took down Arkansas State by a score of 36-30. The favorites won the previous two editions, with Appalachian State being responsible for both wins.
Despite the difference in styles, this game shapes up to be a close contest. That’s further evidenced by the fact that it opened up as a pick’em. The line has moved substantially from there, as Georgia Southern is now a field goal favorite. That’s an indicator that some smart money has already come in for the Sun Belt squad.
Either way, it’s tough to see an Eastern Michigan team that has some struggles versus the run being able to successfully stifle their opponent’s triple option attack. The air will not be filled with footballs when Georgia Southern is on the field, but the team’s strength on the ground should be enough to get the job done.
We’ll take Georgia Southern minus the field goal.