There are so many good things to say about Georgia Southern three games into its tenure as an FBS football program.
For those who take losses especially hard, I won’t deny that there are also plenty of negatives.
Georgia Southern has played two FBS opponents so far this season. The Eagles are 0-2 in those games.
For plenty of fans, that single stat doesn’t tell half of the story. And yet, for all record-keeping purposes, that is the only story to be told.
The Georgia Southern Eagles are not a 1-2 team — and yet, they are.
GSU is a team that has imposed its will on all three teams it has faced — and yet, it has been left flailing at a pair of late drives that ultimately stole away wins.
There isn’t really one good way to look at the Eagles’ first few games as a member of FBS. GSU has certainly run the gamut of emotions and has inspired everything from absolute certainty of success to utter fear of failure.
By all accounts, that entire range of emotion was likely felt by most Eagle fans during Saturday’s loss against Georgia Tech.
At times, the Eagles looked like a team ready to take a seat at the big-boy table. In other instances, GSU was struggling just to keep up with the pace.
In the end, what will be remembered is the Eagles’ inability — for the second time in three weeks — to finish off a supposedly superior team after putting it on the ropes.
The Eagles don’t have much to gain this season. They can’t advance to a bowl game and are widely viewed as a ‘transitional team ‘ by casual fans much more so than they are an actual member of the Sun Belt.
And this is where the dilemma sets in.
Georgia Southern fans will never be content. Having a team on the ropes — no matter that team’s conference or stature — just isn’t enough. Georgia Southern fans expect to win.
The GSU players and coaching staff expect to win.
Random internet wanderers — by way of stumbling upon GSU articles and the subsequent comments — expect the Eagles to win.
That is the standard.
In two of three games this season, the Eagles haven’t met that standard.
It’s a harsh expectation to live up to, and yet it’s the line of thinking that has gotten Georgia Southern to where it is today. There is no shame in losing a hard-fought game, and yet there is plenty of incentive to realize that the better team may not have won a few of these early games.
Miscues, mistakes, and missed opportunities aside, there is nothing for the Eagles to be ashamed of in their first three games as an FBS competitor.
That said, there is little doubt that the Eagles will have plenty of long nights reflecting on what may have been if not for a couple of bad plays here and there over the first month of the season.
But every Eagle fan has been there before.
In the minds of the GSU faithful, multiple potential national championships or conference titles have been just one miscue or one missed opportunity away. Fans and players alike certainly know that those same small variables are all that stands between a 1-2 Eagles squad and a 3-0 team that is taking the FBS by storm.
Another late loss is sure to have the Eagles reeling. And yet, the fact that they pushed another ACC team to the brink needs to be counted as a major positive.
Two potential wins have turned into losses. That’s tough to take, but all the more fuel to throw onto the fire of a Georgia Southern team that seems determined to make its mark as a dangerous FBS member in its first season.