The Georgia Southern Eagles went into the 2012 season with sky-high expectations, a boatload of talent and two huge concerns — the secondary and the kicking game.
So, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a game thoroughly dominated by GSU statistically on Saturday, the Eagles lost to The Citadel on account of a pair of missed field goals and a pass interference call on fourth-and-3 on the Bulldogs’ eventual game-winning drive.
The difference between that loss and the 2011 loss to North Dakota State in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals was simple — this time, the better team didn’t win. North Dakota State flat-out beat GSU last December, and against The Citadel, the Eagles beat themselves.
Georgia Southern out-rushed The Citadel, 307-168, got 23 first downs to The Citadel’s 12 and converted seven of 12 third downs. The Citadel was 3-of-14 on third down, but also was 2-of-3 on fourth down, and those two fourth-down conversions resulted in a touchdown and a game-winning field goal.
At the end of the day, it was pretty clear GSU was the more talented team. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Eagles dropped only eight spots in the FCS media poll to No. 11, and it’s also why the Bulldogs (No. 21) are ranked for the first time this century.
Because there’s no substitute for experience.