Here we go with Week 8:
Georgia Southern (4-2) @ #5 Appalachian State (5-1)
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.93 points
ASU is favored to win by 22 points
Series: ASU leads 10-9-1
Last Meeting: ASU 27, GSU 20 20T
Finally, after nearly two months of football, Appalachian State will host a conference game when the Georgia Southern Eagles come to Kidd Brewer Stadium this weekend. Another thing that has taken forever to get here is the next game. It was nice to have a week off, and I am sure the players enjoyed it very much. However, when I woke up last Saturday morning, I knew something wasn’t right. The sun was up. I was raring to go. I even considered packing up the truck with the tailgating supplies, just because it felt right. When the weekend arrives in a couple days, everything will be packed just like always, waiting for another Black Saturday.
The easy games are over. The conference schedule is in full swing as the Mountaineers will close the season with five league games. Georgia Southern is the first test for ASU coming off the bye week. Southern is coming off a crushing overtime loss to the Elon Phoenix. Southern has bitten by the injury bug, and I am sure they are looking forward to another 7+ hour bus ride up to North Carolina. ASU on the other hand is well rested and is about as healthy as they have been all season long. When asked about the status of Armanti Edwards, Jerry Moore kind of said that he expected #14 to start against the Eagles.
Georgia Southern seems to be getting back to old team we all used to know. The Eagles lead the nation in rushing at 351 yards a game and are scoring 41.5 points a game on the season. Most of the offense comes from the skills of Jayson Foster. Foster is fourth in the nation with nearly 160 yards rushing per contest, and has scored 15 touchdowns. However, in the last 3 games, Foster has been held to less than 100 yards rushing in each contest and has only scored one touchdown in each of those games. Georgia Southern is so beat up by injuries that it is allowing teams to focus more on Foster. In his two games against ASU, Foster has carried 24 times for 101 yards. Lamar Lewis, Chris Teal and Mike Hamilton will carry the load when Foster hands it off. All three carried for at least 70 yards against Elon.
Whether it is Armanti Edwards or Trey Elder who starts for the Mountaineers this Saturday, one thing is for certain: The Apps are going to be scoring. Southern is outscoring ASU on a per game basis, but Southern also had two overtime games this year, and Western Georgia isn’t exactly Michigan. The Apps offense is a little more balanced than their opponent on Saturday. ASU is running the ball for 201 yards a game and passing for another 220 yards. By spreading the ball around, ASU avoids having one guy get all the numbers. Kevin Richardson has averaged a steady 72 yards a game on the ground, and is only 522 yards away from the ASU all time record. Hans Batichon is catching 4 passes a game for a 63 yard average. Trey Elder leads the conference in passing efficiency as he has tossed for 921 yards and 8 touchdowns while completing 66 percent of his passes.
I fully expect Georgia Southern to ride the coat tails of Jayson Foster. At some point, a coach has to realize that when you give a kid a chance to make a play on every down, eventually he going to take enough hits that he becomes ineffective. I think Chris Hatcher has done a great job so far this season, but before too long, the Eagles are going to have to mix it up a bit. I am hoping this isn’t the weekend they plan that. Unlike the past two seasons, ASU has been coming out of the gates kind of slow. The second quarter is actually when ASU has scored 40% of its points, while holding the opposition to 13 total points in the second stanza. If Georgia Southern sets the tempo early with some big plays by forcing the ASU defense to run backwards, we could be in for a shoot out.
On the other hand, ASU leads the Southern Conference in passing efficiency while Georgia Southern allows over 250 yards a game through the air. It is pretty easy to figure that ASU will test the Southern secondary. In the spread offense, ASU has always passed in order to set up the run, which provides a perfectly balanced offense. If ASU is successful in the passing game, look for ASU to run away early and coast to an big victory.
The fact remains, Georgia Southern is coming to Boone and they expect to win. Georgia Southern has a fan base that expects success and that enthusiasm runs throughout the players. The Eagles will want to end the string of home victories for ASU. Also fresh on their mind is the heart wrenching loss they suffered last year in Statesboro. Appalachian must also remember that they are still playing Georgia Southern. The seniors on the ASU team remember the beating they took in 2004 when Southern won 54-7. Bad losses are on the minds of both of these teams in the past and this year. The two losses Southern suffered this year were in overtime and they can only imagine what could have been. ASU played a bad game against Wofford and you think about it, this game is only a couple plays away from pitting two undefeated teams. Forget the records though. Its plain and simple this weekend. These two teams are going to get after each other on every down. I expect Southern to play like its their last game. The hard part for Southern is that they are beat up, while ASU is as ready to go as they been since the first week. ASU will work off some rust in the first few drives, but they should be excited to play. Black Saturday always bring out the best in the ASU fan base. The Apps should get a victory this week, but its wont be easy to contain Jayson Foster.
The First Pick:
Black Out 34