College Sports

Georgia Southern heads west for Sun Belt Conference opener

The Georgia Southern Eagles have traveled across the country to Moscow, Idaho, to take on Idaho on Saturday in a game that marks the first Sun Belt Conference outing of the season for the Eagles.

The Eagles were 8-0 in Sun Belt play last year, including a 47-24 victory over the Vandals. Last season was Georgia Southern’s first year in the Sun Belt and at the FBS level football. Because of that transition, they were ineligible for a bowl game despite winning the conference.

“Our guys are excited. You know, we are playing the defending champs. They are undefeated in the league, and they are coming to our place,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “It’s very exciting, and we are going to go out there and hopefully play the best game we have played yet to date.”

The Eagles enter the game having won two straight, over Western Michigan and The Citadel. The Citadel’s triple-option offense was a task for the Eagles’ defense to handle, and it was up to it, holding the Bulldogs to 13 points. This week, the Eagles face a completely different offensive mindset.

“It is going to be a total different preparation. It is a really big time for our defense, playing a more conventional type of offense,” Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz said. “They throw the ball a little bit more than they run it, but they are a two-headed monster on offense.”

The Vandals are coming off of their first victory of the season as the escaped against FCS opponent Wofford. The Vandals beat the Terriers 41-38, needing a fourth-quarter comeback to earn the win.

The Eagles face the tough task of traveling across the country for this game. The schedule and routine changed this week due to the length of the trip.

“We travel over to Idaho. Over three time zones and 2,700 miles to get out there. We are excited about that opportunity,” Fritz said. “It is the first time the Eagles have ever played at the Kibbie Dome and first time myself and the other coaches have been out their, as well, so it will be a tremendous challenge.”

The Eagles’ ground game has been the tone-setter the past two weeks, averaging 398 yards in those games. During that same span, the Vandals have given up an average of 305 yards per game on the ground.

“They have that great running back, they are good up front, they are well-coached, and they do a good job on offense,” Petrino said.