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Welcome to ‘Hate Week’ as Eagles face App

On Saturday, Georgia and Florida will throw their little cocktail party. Texas and Oklahoma put on a good show a couple of weeks ago and Auburn and Alabama figure to have another slugfest at the end of November. 

There are plenty of rivalries between Power-5 schools that get a lot of press, but - when it comes to the mix of mutual hatred and respect that defines so many great college football rivalries - you can’t do much better than taking in a game between Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.

Thursday’s matchup will have plenty of storylines as far as the 2019 season goes. Appalachian State is ranked 20th in the country - although a ranking didn’t do the Mountaineers much good against the Eagles last season. App is looking for a third straight Sun Belt title while the Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak and could take control of the Sun Belt East race with a win up in Boone.

But for everything that can be gained by either side with a win this week, the rivalry is about so much more than just one matchup in any given season.

It’s about the first playoff loss in Georgia Southern history and the only time Erk Russell’s Eagles were ever shut out.

It’s about the Mountaineers having nearly a dozen fewer conference championships in their trophy case once Georgia Southern decided to crash their party in the Southern Conference.

It’s about Appalachian State mostly not caring about losing a home game in 2001, so long as it kept Adrian Peterson from gaining 100 rushing yards.

It’s about Mountaineer fans wrecking a Georgia Southern team before wrecking its bus and postgame spread.

It’s about the Eagles winning by 47 points against a ranked App State team the season after that.

It’s about the Mountaineers gaining the upper hand in nationwide competition and winning three consecutive championships after the Eagles had gone back-to-back twice.

It’s about Armanti Edwards supposedly breaking the goal line to stave off an upset.

It’s about the Eagles putting a black mark on ‘Black Saturday’, ending a lengthy home winning streak for App while the Mountaineers were still basking in the adulation of a win over Michigan.

It’s about Appalachian State keeping its foot on the gas until 712 yards had been racked up.

It’s about a top-ranked App team jumping out to a 14-0 lead at Paulson and then never scoring again.

It’s about how App’s Brian Quick has still never fully gained possession of a touchdown pass that won the 2011 game.

It’s about an FBS atmosphere and a sea of cardboard cut-out Eagle head logos overwhelming the Mountaineers in 2014.

Most recently, it’s about Georgia Southern watching it’s fiercest rival attain an FBS ranking for the first time, then throwing that ranking in the trash four days later.

When Thursday rolls around, it’s going to be all about who can gain control of this season’s race for a Sun Belt title.

But it’s about a lot more than that.

Anthony is sports editor of the Statesboro Herald. 

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