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Hot Read: Eagles Win GoDaddy Bowl

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Georgia Southern blew out Bowling Green 58-27 in the GoDaddy Bowl.

1. In its first ever bowl game, Georgia Southern made mincemeat of its opponent, Bowling Green, who entered the game boasting one of the most prolific passing attacks in all of college football. In this battle of birds of prey, the Eagles methodically pounded the Falcons into submission. For a school that has made such great strides in such a relatively small amount of time, even the most optimistic Georgia Southern fans couldn’t have realistically predicted a blowout of this proportion against of team of their opponent’s caliber. This victory, as the feature game on ESPN tonight, will further serve to bolster the program’s a reputation, one that has done nothing but earn respect with each passing week since joining the FBS, and winning the Sun Belt last year. Beyond the obvious implications of winning your first bowl game, are the recruiting effects. If this becomes a trend for Georgia Southern, expect the Eagles to continue to gain more and more national notoriety.

2. Turnovers were an important factor in this game. Bowling Green turned the ball over three consecutive times to start the second half, with each one sandwiched in between a Georgia Southern touchdown. After failing to convert on a gutsy, albeit questionable, fourth down conversion, in an attempt to counter punch after the Eagles scored on their initial drive of the third quarter, Favian Upshaw’s 80-yard score on the very next play put the team from Statesboro comfortably in the driver’s seat. On BGSU’s ensuing drive, they couldn’t run more than two plays before Georgia Southern’s defensive pressure got to Matt Johnson, forcing his first fumble of the evening, which was recovered by Nardo Govan. Again, the Eagles found the end zone posthaste, with Matt Brieda punching it in from the one. It wasn’t much more than a game-time minute later that Johnson again put the ball on the carpet, which again was snatched up by Govan. Another two play touchdown drive for the Eagles, and the game was all but over.

3. The juxtaposition of Georgia Southern’s run game and Bowling Green’s passing game was as intriguing as advertised. The first half looked like they may just go back and forth until the final whistle, but that was not to be. There was some speculation the Georgia Southern’s secondary may not be able to keep up with BGSU’s pace of play, but it was actually that breakneck attack that was the Falcons downfall. The only way Bowling Green could get the Eagles’ offense off the field was to let them score. Then, regardless of the outcome of the drive, Bowling Green was back on defense within a couple of minutes. Only one of BGSU’s drives lasted longer than 125 seconds, and its longest drive of the night was only 4:22 and it ended with a turnover on downs. The Falcons defense could only take so much punishment, they were on the field for over 40 minutes, and by the fourth quarter it looked like they just wanted to go home.

4. Georgia Southern did an excellent job of spreading the wealth, tonight. Matt Breida, the feature back, ground out 68 yards and a score, on a team high 15 carries. Favian Upshaw had the hot hand and saw 12 carries, which he took advantage of, finishing with 199 yards and four touchdowns. LA Ramsby added another 12 rushes for 44 hard yards and six points. Wesley Fields saw 10 total touches for 92 yards of total offense, and a rushing touchdown, as well. And quarterback Kevin Ellison kept the ball for himself 13 times for 70 yards.

5. The scariest thing about Georgia Southern is that out of all those leading offensive skill players, none are seniors. Breida, Upshaw, Ellison, Ramsby, and Fields will all be back in 2016. There will certainly be some holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. For instance, Matt Dobson, who had perhaps the craziest play of the night, will be graduating, alongside guys like Antwione Williams and Antonio Glover, among others, but there is also a good core coming back on defense. Star linebacker Ironhead Gallon, and pass rusher Bernard Dawson, headline the class of returning starters, not to mention Jay Ellison, Chris de la Rosa, and Darius Jones. The point is, Georgia Southern will probably be even better next season, and when they’re firing on all cylinders, like they were in the GoDaddy Bowl, they are a difficult bunch to hang with.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP