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My Take 9/20 - No. 1 in the polls, GSU looks to stay
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Getting there was easy. Staying there is always the hard part.

People always say that polls shouldn't come out until four or five weeks into the season, and it's easy to see why. The Georgia Southern Eagles (2-0, 1-0 Southern Conference) are the No. 1 team in the country according to the FCS coaches and media, and the reason for that doesn't have a whole lot to do with what has happened in 2011.

Sure rankings are based on merit, but in GSU's case, they are based on last season's merit.

Unless wins over Samford and Division II Tusculum merit a No. 1 ranking.

Didn't think so.

So, as far as the 2011 Eagles are concerned, getting there was the easy part.

But there are still nine games left on the schedule including Chattanooga, Wofford, Appalachian State and, oh yeah, Alabama.

So let's forget about rankings for a minute.

The good news is that GSU doesn't need a No. 1 ranking to compete for a national title - the beauty of the playoffs.

The bad news is that they need seven Division I wins to be playoff eligible, and have only 10 games to do it.

That means, from here on out, the Eagles need to go 6-3 to finish 8-3 and be a lock for a playoff berth.

Where will they find those six wins?

Let's take a look at the remaining schedule. Predicting the outcome of a football game is hard enough, so let's strictly stick to what's on paper and look at the games that should be won by the Eagles.

Up next is Western Carolina. That's one.

Then there's Elon. If we forget about the blue-pants disaster of 2009, that one should edge towards GSU. A new coach, new players at key positions and a road crowd that travels well all work in the Eagles' favor.

After that, it's a coin toss against a Chattanooga team that already has a top 10 win and played respectably at Nebraska.

A pair of (let's be honest) should-be wins in Presbyterian and The Citadel are sandwiched between Furman, Appalachian State and Wofford to close out the SoCon schedule.

Out of the next eight games, GSU needs to find six wins. Three can go up on the board as probable, so the Eagles need to find three more between UTC, ASU, Wofford, Furman and Elon.

If they don't, they'll be heading to Tuscaloosa facing a must-win situation with a playoff berth on the line.

Or, they can just go ahead and win a SoCon championship and remove all doubt.

Either way one thing's for sure. In week four of the football season, a No. 1 ranking doesn't do a whole lot for you aside from placing a massive target on your back.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.