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My Take 11/15 - Tide will beat GSU... right?


It’s been a wild month in our neck of the college football woods.

When I began working as the Statesboro Herald’s sports editor four weeks ago, Georgia Southern was ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Eagles were 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Southern Conference.

GSU crushed Presbyterian College, 48-14, on Oct. 22.

In an Oct. 28 column I wrote, "I’ve heard several people say they believe Wofford will be GSU’s toughest opponent. I disagree. I think Appalachian State poses the biggest threat to the Eagles."

The next day, GSU lost, 24-17, to Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. Two days later, the Eagles lost their No. 1 ranking and fell to No. 5 in The Sports Network/ FCS Top 25 College Football Poll and No. 4 in the FCS Coaches Poll.

I was certain GSU would crush The Citadel, especially after losing to the Mountaineers. Instead, the Eagles escaped Paulson Stadium with a 14-12 victory over The Citadel when kicker Ryan Sellers missed a 37-yard field goal with 13.7 seconds to play.

At that point, I figured GSU had peaked too soon. Originally thinking the Eagles would beat Wofford, I changed my mind based on their lackluster performance against The Citadel.

Imagine my surprise as the Eagles dominated the Terriers, 31-10, to win the Southern Conference championship Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C.

That’s the beauty of college football. You never know what will happen.

GSU’s victory was so impressive that a voter on Sunday gave the Eagles a vote in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Eagles became only the eighth FCS program to receive the honor since The Associated Press allowed votes to be cast on FCS teams in 2007.

Also Monday, GSU (9-1, 7-1) moved up to No. 3 in The Sports Network/ FCS Top 25 College Football Poll and No. 2 in the FCS Coaches Poll.

On Sunday, the NCAA selection committee will announce the 20-team playoff field. As SoCon champion, GSU will be among 10 teams that earn automatic bids. At-large bids will go to 10 other teams.

Appalachian State (7-3, 5-2) likely will receive an at-large bid. Wofford (7-3, 5-2) must beat Chattanooga on Saturday to get its seventh FCS victory and become eligible for the playoffs. The Terriers’ 47-14 win against Virginia-Wise doesn’t apply because Virginia-Wise is not an FCS team.

GSU likely will receive a first-round bye and probably will host a second-round playoff game Dec. 3.

Since GSU has wrapped up an automatic bid, the Eagles should be able to enjoy their game Saturday at the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide are No. 3 in the major polls, and GSU is 0-15 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, but playing against a legendary program like Alabama should be a fun experience for GSU’s players, coaches and fans, no matter the game’s outcome.

"We’ve got the best fans in the country," GSU senior quarterback Jaybo Shaw said. "We realize no matter where we go, they’re going to come with us. We’re just so blessed to have them with us. We’re fortunate to be able to give a (SoCon) championship back to Georgia Southern and the Statesboro community."

Thousands of GSU fans will make the trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to attend Saturday’s game. Many more will watch the game on ESPN3, listen to it on the radio or follow it by computer or cell phone.

On Monday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban met with Alabama media and talked about the Crimson Tide. He also talked about GSU.

"They kind of run flex-bone offense, I don’t know the appropriate name," Saban said of GSU’s triple-option attack, according to a transcript posted on "It’s sort of a Georgia Tech style kind of offense -- option offense that is very similar to the wishbone, but it doesn’t line up like the wishbone. They do it extremely well. They are one of the best running teams in the country. They have about as many rushing yards as anybody in their division or our division."

I am certain Alabama will beat GSU … but you never know what will happen.

That’s the beauty of college football.


Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.