Can Georgia Southern right the ship and win the East?

Ryan Kostensky

A week after the 25-44 drubbing the Eagles took at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe, GS sits at 4-1 in conference, one behind division-leading Troy.

What to know for Saturday’s game

Troy (5-0 conference, 7-2 overall) travels to Statesboro for a 1 p.m. contest against GS (4-1, 7-2) in a battle of Sun Belt East titans.

If the Eagles win, they will hold tiebreakers against App State and Troy, the two threats to the East. Granted, GS has two road games to end the season, but Georgia State and Coastal Carolina have been the bottom-dwellers of the Sun Belt through the duration of the season.

If the Eagles lose, at 4-2 in conference they will be all but eliminated from the conference championship. Both teams have been excellent on both sides of the ball this season, but this game will be won on the defensive side all the ball.

Troy on defense

The Trojans have been a nightmare to opposing offensive coordinators all season. With the exception to the opener, where Troy lost to No. 22 Boise State 20-56, the defense has held teams to an average of just under 19 points per game.

The Trojans are led by Senior “Bandit” defender Hunter Reese and junior defensive end Jarvis Hayes on the defensive front. The pair of pass rushers has combined for nine and a half sacks on the season, and look to wreak havoc on the GS offense that struggled a week ago. Reese has sacks in each of his last two games, while Hayes had two in the two previous contests.

If the Trojans are able to shut down the Eagles offensively, Saturday afternoon could last longer than anyone hopes.

Georgia Southern on defense

Just as Troy has been successful on defense in 2018, the Eagles aren’t far behind in the conversation. Although the defense played poorly against ULM, surrendering 44 points, this was out of the norm for the team. GS held No. 25 App State to just 14 points, forced five turnovers on the Mountaineers, and have been taking the ball away all season.

The Eagles have recorded a turnover in every contest of the season, including at least one fumble or more in every game except the ULM game. They have also recorded at least one interception or more in every game except their home win against Arkansas State. Junior cornerback Kindle Vildor leads the way for the GS secondary and defense with four interceptions, no one on the team has more than two.

The stout defense looks to shut down Troy and force turnovers. The winner of the turnover battle wins the game.

Prediction

Home field advantage will come into play for Saturday’s matchup. Although the Eagles haven’t played an afternoon home game all season, they rarely lose inside the friendly confines, amassing a record of 192-39 in the Stadium’s 34 seasons of existence.

GS comes into the game as a 1.5 point underdog, but early turnovers and a bounce-back performance from the loss they suffered last week. With the game coming down to the wire, the Eagles pull out a late victory with a deep kick from redshirt-junior kicker Tyler Bass, Eagles win 28-27 on Senior Day.

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, [email protected]