Let’s start off the column with the first thing that comes to mind when I say a phrase.
Georgia Tech? Ah, the Yellow Jackets. They solidify their history based purely on this offense and refuse to shy away from it as the game of college football transitions into the spread.
Top-ranked rushing offense.
Navy? Well, yes, Keenan Reynolds led the Midshipmen to a Poinsettia Bowl victory and a terrific season for the Armed Forces team, but even they placed 50 yards behind the leading rushing team.
Biggest surprise of 2014.
I’m making my case for the Georgia Southern Eagles out of the Sun Belt.
Emerging out of the dark hole down South, the Eagles–wow. They went 9-3, led the conference at 8-0, ran for 382.8 yards a game…
Where’s the recognition?
Refusing to take away from its triumphant year, what could have been for Georgia Southern will make you queasy. Let’s rewind back to the opening week of the season when the Eagles began their 2014 campaign with ACC opponent North Carolina State.
Forget about LSU-Wisconsin and Georgia-Clemson, this game spun heads around the nation with the Eagles leading 17-3 at halftime.Fans receiving a flurry of drama during the noon slate of week one. Go figure.
After being shutout in the third, the Eagles managed to kick a field goal with only a few minutes remaining to lead by six. As if the football gods scripted the first chapter of “too good to be true,” you pretty much can guess what happens next.
After failing to move the ball for nearly 55 minutes of the game, the Wolfpack drive down, score, and hold Georgia Southern. That close to knocking off a BCS-conference team.
“Good game, must be luck, though.”
Or so they thought (insert evil laugh here). The Eagles would imprint their name around the nation two weeks later. The nation or the Upset Alert tab on the ESPN ticker, same thing if you’re a junkie who enjoys refusing to move a muscle on Saturdays.
Two Georgia teams, and two offenses mimicking one another. The nation believed the Eagles would soak in a dose of their own medicine when they met with Georgia Tech.
And it sure followed the script, for the first half it seemed. Southern regained a dash of momentum early in the third to cut the deficit to 35-17.
And then another.
Last one…and another.
38-35 late in the fourth. Georgia Southern, pumping their chests out at the big brother of the state, presenting to the fans that they were the real deal.
Adding insult to injury, the Tech’s touchdown with :23 pierced the hearts of the Eagles, recalling the scenario a few weeks prior.
What could be worse than a game slipping through your hands like water to an ACC school?
Try scoring 28 unanswered points, only to go for naught.
College football guru Phil Steele sees it best, and his statistics will wow anyone with a passion for numbers and angles. Teams with close losses regroup next season and typically improve their records the following the year.
At 9-3 this year, could Georgia Southern see a double-digit win total next season?
Returning their starting quarterback (Kevin Ellison) and running back (Matt Breida), overlook the Eagles and enjoy the flight back home. As for 2015, Georgia Southern’s hands will be more than full with a stacked non-conference schedule.
West Virginia, Western Michigan, and Georgia.
The Mountaineers out of the Big 12 and Georgia representing the SEC will be in for dogfights every week, but when the Eagles travel to their respective stadiums, don’t think they’ll be taking that Saturday off.