The Journey begins: Will the Eagles come out on top?

Trevor McNaboe

Trevor McNaboe

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5-7

It’s fall again, and with that, football season is upon us. While Georgia Southern is a school with a storied past, this season will be uncharted waters for the Eagle Nation. The Eagles will be playing FBS, not FCS, football.

The normally high expectations for the program may need to be brought down to earth for the 2014 season. The six FCS national championships the program has accumulated are great, but the Eagles are facing a whole new breed of competition at the FBS level in 2014.

The Eagles have a brutal out-of-conference schedule this year with two Atlantic Coast Conference teams (North Carolina State and Georgia Tech), Navy and FCS opponent Savannah State.

In the out-of-conference games, I have us splitting at 2-2, but probably not in the fashion most people project. I believe our Eagles shock the Yellow Jackets (pun intended) and also trounce Savannah State for a second straight year.

Along with that, the Eagles in-conference eases up as they don’t play the top two teams in the Sun Belt (UL Lafayette and Arkansas State).

However, I do see us matching decently this season, compiling a 4-4 record in conference with wins against Georgia State, App State, Idaho and New Mexico State.

That puts the Eagles at a total of 5-7 on the season and middle of the conference finishing the inaugural year of FBS play.

Have patience Eagle Nation. It took four years for the Eagles to win double digit games when they revitalized the program. Success will come.[/one_half]

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8-4

It is an exciting time to be an Eagle. With all of the speculation around the season, it is important to look at all the unknowns when making predictions this far in advance.

Teams historically don’t do well their first year entering the FBS. A record with eight wins out of a 12-game season would be a spectacular season and put Georgia Southern in a great position to win the Sun Belt Conference in its inaugural season. I believe three of four potential losses will come at the hands of teams who have historically performed well in the FBS and have the most challenging rosters the Eagles will face throughout the season.

The first game of the season against N.C. State will be the most telling of the season. While I have it listed as a loss, I could definitely see the Eagles coming out with a win depending on how they answer to Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The University of Florida transfer has the best tools and skill of any quarterback the Eagles will see all season.

Georgia Tech in week three is where I have the next close loss. The speed in their option offense and experience makes them a tough but beatable opponent this year and in future seasons. After five strong wins against Sun Belt opponents, Troy will roll into Statesboro with Head Coach Larry Blakeney entering his 24th year at the helm for the Trojans. Blakeney has been building up his team after three straight seasons without a bowl game and went 6-6 last season.

At the end of the season the Eagles will face off in Annapolis, Md., against Navy. The Midshipmen are coming off of a 9-4 season and a win in the Armed Forces Bowl and are looking to improve upon their past success and land in a third straight bowl game.

Ending the season with a 7-1 conference record would be enough for the Eagles to take the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Last season both Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette shared the championship with records of 5-2. With several questions to be answered this season, this Saturday’s game against NC State will be a good gauge for the rest of the season.[/one_half_last]

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N.C. State: Loss

Savannah State: Win

Georgia Tech: Win

South Alabama: Loss

Appalachian State: Win

New Mexico State: Win

Idaho: Loss

Georgia State: Win

Troy: Loss

Texas State: Loss

Navy: Loss

Louisiana Monroe: Loss

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N.C. State: Loss

Savannah State: Win

Georgia Tech: Loss

South Alabama: Win

Appalachian State: Win

New Mexico State: Win

Idaho: Win

Georgia State: Win

Troy: Loss

Texas State: Win

Navy: Loss

Louisiana Monroe: Win

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online poll by Opinion Stage

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