The History of the Georgia Southern and Appalachian State Rivalry

Jenna Wiley

Photo taken by Blake Kessler

This year’s Halloween will certainly be a special one for those following Georgia Southern football. Thursday’s game against Appalachian State is notorious in the Sun Belt Conference, and this game will not go unnoticed. The two schools are not shy about each others hatred, or I should say a “feeling deeper than hate.” But why do two schools from two different states have such an intense rivalry? 

The Beginning

To try and understand why this rivalry is so deeply seeded in the schools fabric, it’s easiest to take it back to the beginning. 

It’s 1987 at the I-AA Quarterfinals, and GS is the two-time defending I-AA National Champions. App. State had just won the Southern Conference. GS Head Coach Erk Russell had never lost a playoff game in his whole career, until that icy day. The field for that game was so icy that it is often dubbed the “Ice Bowl.” The final score was 19-0, favoring App State. This game is often credited to be the beginning of the modern rival.  

The Streak 

Fast forward to 2000. It was GS’s turn for a winning streak. From 2000-2002, GS won against App State for four games. This winning streak by the Eagles included a nail-biter of a game in 2001, when the Eagles led 14-0, fell behind to 15-14 and then came out on top with 27-18. To this day, there have been no four-year players for either team who has experienced a four year clean streak again. 


The game in 2018 against GS and App State will forever be legendary. App State was 5-1 with a loss to Penn State. GS had a new head coach: Chad Lunsford, who is helping the GS Eagles turn around. 

With App State becoming an official FBS ranked team at No. 20., the underdog win coming from GS was more than just beating a rival. App State was the first ranked school GS had ever beat. App State went on to win the Sun Belt conference that season, but knowing GS stole their first ever ranking made Eagles fans happier. 

This year on Thursday, GS will travel to Boone, North Carolina to battle against App State on their home turf. 

This leaves us with one question: will App State take revenge for last seasons beat down, or will GS hold true to their promise of beating them in their own home?