Georgia Bulldogs: Don’t Sleep on Georgia Southern


The Georgia Bulldogs will host the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday. While GSU isn’t a Power 5 program, they are a strong 7-2 team in the Sun Belt.

The GATA rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Southern Eagles will have its newest installment on Saturday when GSU ventures up to the Classic City to play the Dawgs Between the Hedges. Both teams enter Saturday’s game with seven wins apiece and both have secured bowl eligibility.

UGA enters Saturday at 7-3 (5-3) after two straight SEC wins to essentially make their season respectable. Georgia, like most years, entered 2015 with wildly high expectations to contend for a College Football Playoff spot. Their loss on the road in Knoxville eliminated that train of thought and a pitiful defeat down in Jacksonville ruined UGA’s hope to play for an SEC Championship.

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However, should the Georgia Bulldogs win out, they could have back-to-back 10 wins seasons. Considering how bad the program looked in October and the devastating nature of RB Nick Chubb‘s gruesome knee injury, Dawg Nation could view a double-digit win season as a nice consolation prize in an otherwise disappointing season.

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Georgia Southern, however, is having a great second year in the Sun Belt. Since agreeing to make the move from Division I-AA to Division I in 2012, the Eagles became their first team to win their conference championship outright since making The Leap. Unfortunately, GSU was ineligible for a bowl game in 2014 and the Division I-AA playoffs in 2013 as part of their transition to Division I.

At 7-2 (5-1), Georgia Southern will play in its first bowl game as a full Division I school. Their only losses this year are to the Big 12’s West Virginia Mountaineers and their Sun Belt rival in the Appalachian State Mountaineers, who too is in transition to make the full leap to Division I. App State is also bowl eligible at 8-2 (6-1).

UGA is certainly the more established program, but Georgia Southern’s program came to live under former UGA DC Erk Russell. He brought the GATA moniker from the Classic City to the Boro. GSU has won 6 national championships at the FCS level and don’t seem to care about the pressures of playing Division I football. They’ve lost four games in two years.

This is no knock on Georgia Southern, but when the University of Georgia athletic department fills out their four game non-conference schedule, it’s usually in this manner: Georgia Tech (ACC), a decent-to-great Division I program, and two teams UGA should easily beat. While it may not have been the AD’s intention, Georgia Southern is that decent Division I program on UGA’s schedule that isn’t Georgia Tech.

I’m not sure when the 2015 affair with GSU was first scheduled, but it must have been after Georgia Southern declared that it would make the move the Division I, as a Power 5 program of UGA’s caliber wouldn’t schedule two FCS teams in a calendar year. UGA handled the Southern Jaguars in September.

While a few may have viewed this as an easy win for Georgia, GSU has been a great program since inception and I had no doubt that they would easily make the necessary adjustments to become a strong Division I program. They’re in an infinitely better place than say in-state Sun Belt rival Georgia State who doesn’t have their own stadium and can’t win three games a year.

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This isn’t a “gimme” game for the Georgia Bulldogs. They should win this game, but they have to play well to beat the only other bowl eligible team in the state. A good game between these two schools does wonders for our state and our region. That being said, forever, Go Dawgs!