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Can the Eagles pass the test?
Playoff hopes ride on upset of top-ranked Mountaineers
FRONT big col
    This, ladies and gentlemen, is about as big as it gets.
    Georgia Southern’s playoff hopes are pinned to the outcome of today’s noon game against one of the Eagles’ biggest rivals – defending national champion Appalachian State. The Mountaineers are still riding high after capturing the school’s first national title last season, and they visit Statesboro as the top-ranked team in the country. ASU would like nothing more than to spoil GSU’s homecoming festivities planned for today.
    App State has cruised through its 2006 schedule so far, accumulating a 6-1 mark (3-0 Southern Conference) with its only loss coming against North Carolina State in the season opener. In the mist of a complete overhaul, Georgia Southern hasn’t been as fortunate and currently sits at 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the league. The Eagles need this win for so many reasons. An upset would keep Georgia Southern in the SoCon title race and help build confidence on a young team still searching for consistency. The Eagles have flip-flopped wins and losses all season.     
    “This is really a turning point for us,” senior receiver Reggie McCutchen said.
    With a victory, the Eagles could also silence some critics who claim GSU has yet to beat a quality team this season. The Eagles’ three wins have come against the Big South’s Coastal Carolina and traditional SoCon bottom dwellers Western Carolina and Elon.
    The Mountaineers are equipped with the most talent the Eagles have faced this year, but Georgia Southern has history on its side. The Eagles own a 21-3 record in homecoming games and have won eight of their last nine.
    Georgia Southern will be looking for payback from last year’s embarrassing loss at App State, while the Mountaineers surely remember being dismantled by the Eagles on their last visit to GSU.
    Today will be “Blue Out” day at Paulson Stadium, where fans are encouraged to wear as much blue as possible.
    So make your way out to Paulson — you don’t want to miss this one.