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Eagles Have Big Opportunity

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A national stage is a platform Georgia Southern is accustomed to. That spotlight is often where the Eagles have been at their best.

Georgia Southern is well-aware of Coastal Carolina's potential and play. The Eagles' last game with the Chanticleers was a dramatic three-point victory that needed overtime to determine a winner. As Georgia Southern prepares for a key Sun Belt showdown with nationally-ranked, undefeated Coastal Carolina, they do so with an appreciation for their opponent, Saturday's stage and the conference implications that are on the line.

The Eagles are also working towards the weekend with a confidence and trust in their own abilities. Winners of the 17 games the past two years, Georgia Southern's only loss this season came on a 53-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to then-nationally ranked Louisiana. Momentum is now firmly in place after a shutout victory over UMass last Saturday, with the home team winning 41-0. In that matchup, the Eagles doubled the Minutemen in first downs and outgained UMass by nearly 150 yards.

Four games into its season, Georgia Southern leads the Sun Belt and ranks fourth nationally in rushing with 281.25 yards per game. Playmakers like Shai Werts, J.D. King and Wesley Kennedy, who scored the game-winner in overtime against Coastal Carolina a year ago, have been amongst the nation's most productive stars. It's also the Eagles who rank number one in the Sun Belt in scoring defense, with lineman Raymond Johnson and linebacker Rashad Byrd helping to the lead the charge.

A national stage is a platform Georgia Southern is accustomed to. That spotlight is often where the Eagles have been at their best. Georgia Southern beat 19th ranked Appalachian State in Boone last season and very nearly upended 10th ranked Minnesota.

Even with the aforementioned loss to Louisiana, Georgia Southern controls its own destiny when it comes to reaching the Sun Belt Championship Game. In addition to the Eagles' upcoming contest with Coastal Carolina, the Mountaineers will come to Statesboro to finish out the regular season on December 12th. Everything is still within reach for Georgia Southern, with a potential win over the Chanticleers standing as a possible springboard forward.

Title implications will be at play when the Eagles meet Coastal Carolina. The two teams are a combined 7-1, with Georgia Southern's lone defeat coming by one play.

While Coastal Carolina will rightfully get to showcase its program this weekend, the established Eagles have a big opportunity as well.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports