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Eagles, Terriers meet for marquee matchup

#5 Wofford (5-0, 3-0) at #7 Georgia Southern (4-1, 3-1) — Paulson Stadium, 6 p.m.

    They won’t be playing for all the marbles, but the winner will still have his taw in the ring.
    In the biggest college game in the state this weekend No. 7 Georgia Southern (4-1, 3-1) will be looking to extend its home winning streak to 14 straight when it meets No. 4 Wofford (5-0, 3-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
    This will be the 200th game in the history of Paulson where the Eagles are 168-31.
    Wofford is off to its best start since entering Division I, and a win by the Terriers would give them a solid grip on first place in the Southern Conference.
    The Eagles are one of four teams with one loss in conference play, but a win over the Terriers would mean they could successfully defend the championship they won last year by winning out.
    That will not be as easy as it sounds in a year in which the conference is showing greater parity than ever before. In addition to the Eagles other teams with one loss in conference play are Samford, Appalachian State, and Chattanooga.
    At least one of those will have two losses when the sun sets Saturday night as Appalachian State (4-2, 2-1) plays at Samford (5-1, 3-1). Chattanooga (2-3, 1-1) is at Furman (2-4, 1-2), and Western Carolina (1-5, 0-4) visits skidding The Citadel (3-3, 2-2) to round out the schedule.
    It will be Military Appreciation Day, and Georgia Southern will wear special camouflage uniforms. Instead of wearing their traditional dark blue or white jersey the Eagles will wear a dark blue digital camouflage jersey.
    The Eagle helmet will be decaled with a red stripe, representing the sacrifice of freedom, flanked with a thin bright yellow stripe on each side. The gray numerals on each side of the helmet will also be flanked by red and yellow stripes.
    Wofford and Georgia Southern rank one-two in the SoCon in rushing, defense against the rush, and in scoring.
    The Terriers are averaging 448 yards per game to Georgia Southern’s 437, and Wofford is allowing only 48 yards per game rushing to the Eagles’ 99.
    Conversely, they are at the bottom of the conference in passing. The Terriers have thrown 37 passes while the Eagles have thrown 33.
    Obviously, something has to give.
    “The way the Southern Conference is shaking out there are a lot of teams that have the chance to be there at the end,” Georgia Southern Coach Jeff Monken said. “If we’re going to be there we’ve got to win these kinds of games.”
    That will be a tall order.
    In one of those oddities that have no logical explanation the home team in this series has not won since 2005 when Wofford prevailed, 21-17.
    Georgia Southern won, 31-10, last year to clinch the SoCon title, but the previous five games were decided by five or few points.
    One of those was a 23-20 playoff win by Georgia Southern in 2010 after the Terriers had won in Statesboro, 33-31, in regular season play.
    The Eagles lead the overall series, 11-7, but the two teams are 4-4 at Paulson Stadium.
    “Our defense is a group of 11 guys playing hard,” Wofford Coach Mike Ayers said. “We’ve got some young guys in there, and they don’t understand playing hard every rep, but they’re getting there.
    “We’re not real fancy. We don’t do a whole lot, but what we do we try to do well. Our linebacker corps is really good for us, and we’ve got some guys in the secondary who’ve played a lot of football for us.”
    The Terriers also have one of the top running backs in FCS in fullback Eric Breitenstein who is averaging 178 yards per game.
    The Eagles, who had 614 yards last week at Western Carolina including 205 in the fourth quarter, counter with three backs who rank in the top 10 in the conference in rushing.
    Fullback Dominique Swope is fourth at 105 yards per game while quarterback Jerick McKinnon is averaging 88.8, and quarterback Ezayi Youyoute 78.2. Wofford’s Donovan Johnson is 10th at 61.2.