The Eagles became bowl eligible with their sixth win of the season as they knocked off Appalachian State in double overtime Nov. 26. The big question since then has been where will they go bowling? Sunday afternoon it became official as it was revealed the Eagles will be heading back to the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery Alabama Dec. 27 for a noon kickoff against Buffalo.
“We are extremely excited as a football team and a university to be a part of this bowl season,” said Eagle coach Clay Helton. “I’d like to thank the Camellia Bowl and the great city of Montgomery for this awesome opportunity. Our team is excited about the bowl preparation and would like to congratulate the University of Buffalo for their opportunity also and this is bound to be an exciting game.”
The Eagles opponent on the 27th will be the Bulls of the University of Buffalo who finished the season with a 6-6 record. Similar to Georgia Southern the Bulls lost three-straight games entering their final game of the season and needed a win to become bowl eligible. In another similarity Buffalo had to sweat out the win as they scored with 1:15 left in the game to earn a 23-22 victory over Akron.
“I feel like you have two teams who really had to fight their way in,” said Helton. “They now get to give the reward to their players and their fan base of another game. When you look at college football only half the teams get the opportunity to be able to play one more game together and we are honored to be able to do that.”
As great as he feels it is to give the players and fans another game to play and attend Helton also feels it is important to promote the Georgia Southern brand on a nationwide level.
“We are going to be on ESPN and be able to showcase our university,” said Helton. “We are trying to build a national program on the highest level and to be able to show students from throughout the country what Georgia Southern is about for student athletes and just students is a great opportunity.”
Georgia Southern director of athletics Jared Benko knew pretty early in the week that the Camellia Bowl was the likely spot for the Eagles.
There were projections that commissioner Keith Gill went over early this week and we kind of felt all along it may be the Camellia Bowl,” said Benko. “There was a chance it may be Mobile, but we watched the Buffalo game intently Friday because we felt if they won that is who we would play. It is a bowl game that in 2018 our fans really turned out to see and Tyler Bass kicked the game winner at the buzzer and I feel that was a great experience so we are hoping everyone will turn out once again.”
All bowl games can hope for a little drama or history between the two teams playing. The big storyline for the Camellia Bowl will be the fact that Georgia Southern quarterback Kyle Vantrease will be going up against his former team and has done so well at Georgia Southern as he is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation in yards passing.
“I think that is among the big reasons there will be interest in the game,” said Benko. “I also feel like it is a short drive for our fan base in the Atlanta area and many of our fans there can just jump in their car and get there for a noon start and then turn around and drive back if they’d like. There will also be a parade in Montgomery the night before so if fans want to get there early there will be some things for them to do.”
Benko and coach Helton both agree this is also a huge thing for recruiting and Helton and his staff are currently out on the recruiting trail. As for the Eagle players they have finals this week and will have their first team practice Dec 12.