GoDaddy.com Bowl - Mobile, AL
Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green
Wednesday, December 23, 5 pm PT - ESPN
CRIS Opener: Bowling Green -7 O/U 65
CRIS Current: Bowling Green -7 O/U 63.5
Recommendation: Georgia Southern
This year’s GoDaddy.com Bowl in will feature the contrasting styles of Bowling Green and Georgia Southern. The Falcons boast one of the most potent passing games in the country with MAC Offensive Player of the Year Matt Johnson throwing to a foursome of receivers that caught a combined 294 passes. The polar opposite will take place for Georgia Southern as the Eagles led the nation with 355.6 ypg on the ground at nearly 6.5 ypc.
Both teams must deal with the exit of their head coach as BG’s Dino Babers took off for Syracuse and GSU’s Willie Fritz made the odd choice to take over at Tulane. Dell McGee (former running backs coach) will call the shots for Georgia Southern and Brian Ward (former defensive coordinator) will do the same for Bowling Green.
It’s generally understood that Bowling Green will move the ball through the air and Georgia Southern on the ground. The question is who can force the occasional stop? Bowling Green's rush defense comes off as pretty stout (4.01 ypc allowed) but who they played and the common situation of teams playing from behind needs to be taken into account. Tennessee rolled up nearly 400 yards on the ground back in Week 1. Toledo and Western Michigan, two of the better rush offenses in the MAC, combined for over 400 yards. BG did shut down Northern Illinois, but the Huskies were playing with a fourth string quarterback and had no option but to pass as they trailed by two touchdowns the entire game. In the end, I project GSU's ground game to post its season averages if not more.
Georgia Southern's pass defense was solid as it allowed opposing quarterbacks to connect on only 55.9% of their passes. It's a bend-but-don't-break style that likes to force their opponents to work for first downs. They are also opportunistic with 25 takeaways including 17 interceptions.
After laying an egg in its season finale against Georgia State, I look for a big effort from Georgia Southern after being held out of the 2014 postseason due to the transition from FCS. And while everyone is focused on Bowling Green’s offensive prowess, they could very well be walking into a buzzsaw of having to prepare for such a unique offense on short notice. If GSU can force a field goal or two and control the clock, they have a good shot at making this a tight game. Should help their cause that heavy rain and wind is in the forecast. Shop around for one of the +7.5’s still available.