Random thoughts compiled after watching Georgia Southern won a playoff game in Paulson Stadium for the 33rd time in program history.
Jerick McKinnon became only the second player in Georgia Southern history to rush for over 300 yards in a game. The other was Adrian Peterson. That's pretty good company.
— Jerick rushed for 85 yards in the first quarter, 81 in the second, 120 in the third and 30 in the fourth. The thing is, he was still getting carries in the fourth. It just goes to show just how hard it is to run for that many yards. McKinnon and Peterson are both special GSU football players, but something tells me Adrian's records are going to stand for a long, long time.
— Speaking of Peterson's records, I'll say, without hyperbole, that when the NCAA and Southern Conference decided to start counting postseason statistics in the record books, it was a slap in the face to Peterson that they didn't grandfather in all the playoff stats from previous seasons.
Or pure laziness.
— Without playoff stats, Peterson is in the conversation with the greatest players in FCS/I-AA history and the best running backs in college football history. With playoff stats, there's no conversation.
— You can't mention stats without mentioning Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke. The Eagles will have their hands full on Saturday. Here's a sampling of what Heinicke has done through 12 games this year:
— 4,655 passing yards.
— 41 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
— 55 of 79 for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns against New Hampshire. In regulation. To contrast, GSU is 33 of 76 for 756 yards and 8 touchdowns. This season.
— 18-plus receptions to 10 different players.
— Team-high 10 rushing touchdowns.
— Two turtle doves.
— One partridge in a pear tree.
— Steve McNair put up numbers nobody was supposed to touch at Alcorn State in 1994. He passed for 4,863 yards. With 209 yards to go for Heinicke to pass McNair, well, it's pretty likely. If GSU is going to have a shot against ODU, the Eagles will have to make sure the record isn't broken before halftime.
— Days after GSU's 55-48 win over ODU in the 2011 playoffs, the Monarchs canned defensive coordinator Andy Rondeau. The Eagles put up 607 yards in the game. ODU's defense has gone from allowing 27.7 points per game in 2011 to 28.9 under "acting" defensive coordinator Bill Dee this season.
ODU head coach Bobby Wilder recently told the Virginian-Pilot, "My sense is, about 50 percent of the time, we're one of the best defenses in the country."
It's also made from bits of real panther, so you know it's good.
— The Eagles allow 20.8 points per game, but have been much, much more effective against the run than they have the pass.
The Eagles allow about eight fewer points per game than ODU and score about nine fewer points each time out, so that's practically a wash. That could mean this game will be won on turnovers and special teams. Yikes.
— It's funny how the same picture can mean different things to different people. A fellow member of the media and I were talking about the awful attendance (it was an announced 8,888) last Saturday against Central Arkansas.
He looked at it as an argument against a move to the Football Bowl Subdivision. He said that if the Eagles can't draw a crowd for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff game, why would they think they'd do better in a low-level FBS conference like the Sun Belt or the MAC?
I looked at it differently.
The GSU playoff game wasn't on TV and the Southeastern Conference championship game was televised nationally, two hours after GSU's kickoff against a no-name Central Arkansas squad. It also happened to be Georgia's biggest game since, arguably, its last national title.
The Mid-American conference was smart. Its championship game was on Friday. While there were only 18,132 fans in attendance, the game was nationally televised, alone in its time slot, and the winner — Northern Illinois beat Kent State, 44-37 in overtime — got a bid to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Something tells me if GSU was in NIU or KSU's shoes, there would have been more than 9,000 at the game, and GSU fans would be pretty happy about an appearance in the Orange Bowl.
That's just one example, and it's an unlikely one for the Eagles. Also, the BCS system is changing soon, anyway. But it goes to show how much higher the ceiling lies at the next level.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.