STATESBORO — The Georgia Southern Eagles are headed to their first bowl game in program history, as the team accepted a bid to the GoDaddy Bowl to be played against Bowling Green University on Dec. 23 in Mobile, Alabama.
The Eagles (8-4 overall, 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference) will square off against the champions of the Mid-American Conference as the Falcons (10-3, 8-1) put on an impressive display as they defeated Northing Illinois 34-14 in Friday’s MAC championship game.
“We’re fortunate and excited to be the first team in Georgia Southern history to get to a bowl game,” GSU coach Willie Fritz said. ”I’ve talked to a few people who have been to (the GoDaddy Bowl), and it seems like a great place for us.”
“We wish that we could have gone into this in a little different way,” Fritz said, referring to Saturday’s regular-season-ending 34-7 loss to Georgia State at home. “But we’ve done a lot in our first two years in FBS and this is a good way for us to finish out the year on a high note.
Georgia Southern will hope that its second game against a MAC opponent this season goes as well as the first. On Sept. 12, the Eagles ran all over Western Michigan in a 43-17 romp at home.
This will be the first meeting between the two schools and — aside from the early run-in with WMU — the Eagle with the most insight on Bowling Green and what it brings to the table is GSU Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein, who served at fellow MAC school Kent State before coming to Statesboro.
“They’re a very solid program with a good team and a good fan base,” Kleinlein said. “I think that they’ll bring a lot of fans along with Georgia Southern to make this a great bowl game.”
The bowl matchup will feature two teams with high-powered offenses that score their points in different fashions.
Georgia Southern led the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing yards per game for a second consecutive season (355.6, according to ESPN.com), while Bowling Green boasts an aerial attack quarterbacked by Matt Johnson, who led all passers in the nation with 4,700 yards and 43 touchdowns to just eight interceptions.
Bowl preparations won’t quite be in full force this week, with on-field practice time taking a backseat to finals week while Eagle players finish off their fall semester.
“With playing the extra week in the regular season, we’re a week behind on our recruiting,” Fritz said. “We’re going to catch up on that while our guys get ready for finals. After that, we’ve got a couple of weeks to prepare and continue to get healthy.”