South Alabama has never defeated Georgia Southern. Is this the year when history changes?
If South Alabama football has had a nemesis over the years, namely, Georgia Southern, which no matter how good or bad the record is before kickoff, is unable to beat.
South has yet to defeat Georgia Southern in the seven times theyve played over the years.
That doesnt even begin to explain how lopsided the series has been with this nemesis. Well try.
South entered its next-to-last game of the 2017 season with a 4-6 record.
South finishes 6-6, bowl eligible, and with its best season in D1 since its big boy transition in 2013-14, after defeating the winless Eagles on the road the 0-9 Eagle team - and 5-6 New Mexico State the following week.
After beating Arkansas State the week before, the Jaguars were favored by a touchdown.
Then Georgia Southern 52, South Alabama 0 and South Carolina 0- occurred.
Joey Jones, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, resigned two days later. Then came the season-ending loss to New Mexico State, which has only had one winning season in the previous 20 years. The Jags would finish 4-8.
South Alabama would be Georgia Southerns only victory in that year.
South (3-2) moves into its eighth meeting with Georgia Southern at 6:30 in Hancock Whitney Stadium on the USA campus as a 3 1/2-point favorite. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
If weve learned anything about this series, expect the unexpected. Going in as the favorite is as important as last weeks line, which had USA as a field goal favorite over Texas State who came in with one win. The Bobcats would win in four overtimes, 33-31.
Our USA pick:
Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama
This is a quick turnaround for both teams. While South (3-2) was losing a marathon overtime game at Texas State, Georgia Southern (2-4) mounted resurgence in the second half at Troy, but fell 27-24 on stalemate from 2-0 on an early Trojans field goal.
South is aiming to get its first Sun Belt victory against a team its never defeated. To do that, its going to have to shake off a double whammy: last week dreadful finish in stifling.19 in an event it should have won, and hampered by dozens of significant players who need to play.
Southerns dilemma is establishing its identity. The Eagles have a triple-option reputation they rank sixth in the nation with 256.2 rushing yards compared to Troy, but they leaned heavily on the passing game. The final result was 82 yards on the ground. Georgia Southern has lost four of its last five games and the Jags have lost their last two. It has also undergone a coaching change, with head coach Chad Lunsford being fired after battling 1-3 results, and cornerbacks coach Kevin Whitley taking over in the interim.
Kane Wommack, USA's first-year coach, has a defensive pedigree, but it is his offense that is causing concern. The South isn't in the top 74 in passing and is 90th in rushing in America.
If Wommack is in desperate need of an early signature victory, going where no South coach has gone, find a way to get his team to shake off last weeks emotional wreck and get past Georgia Southern.
South Alabama 28, Georgia Southern 27, Georgia Georgia
Charles Hollis has covered college football for Advance Publications, including The Birmingham News, since 1983. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or he can be reached email@example.com.