A Look Into Georgia Southern’s Upset Against Nebraska


AJ Henderson

Quarterback Kyle Vantrease

Following the Eagle’s stunning 45-42 win Saturday evening against Nebraska, the fervent Cornhuskers fanbase started to chant “Fire Frost.” These chants came to fruition as the former head coach Scott Frost was fired Sunday afternoon after compiling a 16-31 record at Nebraska. The Eagles were paid $1.5 million to play Nebraska and prevailed with a win on their opponent’s home field.

This win marked the Eagle’s first win against a power five opponent since Florida in 2013. The Eagles also broke Nebraska’s 214-0 streak when scoring at least 35 points at Memorial Stadium.

Georgia Southern transfer quarterback Kyle Vantrease was under the helm at Buffalo when they lost to Nebraska last year. However, Vantrease’s performance on the 10th starkly contrasted, as he passed for 409 yards on a 66% completion rate with one touchdown. Which landed him the Walter Camp National Player of Week honors; Vantrease is the first Georgia Southern player in the program’s history to win the award. The only deficiency in Vantrease’s game was the two interceptions to Marques Buford.

The rushing duo of Gerald Green and Jalen White put up a combined 217 yards on the ground with four touchdowns. Standout wideout Derwin Burgess Jr. also stuffed the stat sheet with 119 yards receiving.

The game-winning drive, which gathered 75 yards in 11 plays, indicated that the team may have commenced a much-needed culture change. With a multitude of new faces in the locker room, the man at the head of it all, Clay Helton, could be exactly what the program needed.

Georgia Southern finished with a meager 3-9 record last season, Helton, who was introduced as head coach back in November 2021 following his dismissal from Southern California just two games into his seventh season. Helton came to Georgia Southern with a clean slate into a football program in desperate need of direction.

Helton’s track record at USC was respectable, to say the least, finishing with a 46-24 record and a Pac-12 championship in 2017. Some questioned if Helton had lost this winning approach after the end of his USC run. These doubts were eased slightly after the Sept 3, 59-7 win against Morgan State of the FCS division.

One intriguing aspect is the transformation of the Eagle’s offense after being a run-heavy, option-style offense to a more balanced scheme. This allows the eagles to rely on whatever is working. If the defense loads up, they can attack aerially; likewise, with the rushing game, if the defense anticipates a pass, they can counter with a running attack.

This formula of taking whatever the defense gives them may be what the Eagles need to continue the success of what the season has brought so far. The road ahead is strenuous as the Sun-Belt has established itself as a challenging conference with Louisiana, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State, all of whom the Eagles will face this season.

There will be no “free wins” the Eagles should take every game on the schedule with caution, but if Saturday’s win is any indicator, then the Eagles could be in store for a promising season.