FACTS & STATS: Site: Paulson Stadium (25,000) — Statesboro, Georgia.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Idaho 0-2, Georgia Southern 2-0. Away
Record: Idaho 0-3, Georgia Southern 2-2. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, Georgia
Southern 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 0-3, Georgia Southern 3-0. Series
Record: Georgia Southern leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Idaho Vandals are trying desperately to put their first win on
the board this season, but they’ll have a tough test ahead as they travel to
face the Georgia Southern Eagles in a Sun Belt Conference clash at Paulson
Stadium on Saturday.
Idaho was defeated by a mere five points last weekend in the team’s road loss
to Texas State, 35-30. In fact, three of the team’s five losses this season
have been by a single score. With six games remaining, the Vandals will try to
climb back into Sun Belt Conference relevance.
Georgia Southern is the early leader in the Sun Belt this season. The Eagles
are new to the conference and FBS level after moving up from the FCS’ Southern
Conference after last season. Georgia Southern has won three games in a row,
including a 36-28 defeat of New Mexico State last weekend.
The two teams have only met one time in this new conference rivalry, which saw
Georgia Southern come out on top, 28-27, back in the 1990 season.
Idaho hasn’t been a pushover by any means this season. In four of the team’s
five games, the Vandals have scored at least 24 points. In three games, the
team has accumulated at least 30 points. Against Texas State last Saturday,
the Vandals tried to make a late push to come back from a deficit, but the
team ultimately fell short. Quarterback Matt Linehan has been a steady
competitor, though he did throw two interceptions with no touchdowns in last
The Vandals are averaging 25.6 ppg this season with 415.4 total offensive ypg.
In five contests, Linehan has thrown for 1,644 yards (11th most in the FBS)
with an average of 328.8 passing ypg. He has thrown nine touchdowns, but
10 interceptions. Limiting his turnovers will be a key focus this Saturday
against Georgia Southern.
The team’s running game has been pretty sub-par (86.6 rushing ypg), which
limits the versatility of the it’s attack. Jerrel Brown leads the Vandals with
170 yards on 42 carries, while Elijhaa Penny has recorded four touchdowns on
the ground. Through the air, receiver Joshua McCain has a team-best 37
receptions for 568 yards and six touchdowns.
While the offense has at least kept up a decent production in terms of scoring
numbers, the defense has failed to limit any opponent this season. In all five
losses, the Vandals defensive unit has surrendered a very telling single-game
low of 34 points. Idaho gives up 37.6 ppg and 483.6 offensive ypg. Texas State
was able to win last weekend with less than half the number of Idaho’s first
downs (33 for Idaho, 14 for Texas State).
Quayshawne Buckley tops the team with five tackles for loss, and is tied for
the team lead with two sacks. Marc Millan sits atop the defensive leaderboard
with 43 tackles in five games played, and Chris Edwards has a team-best two
interceptions. They’ll need to be ready for Georgia Southern’s limited passing
Georgia Southern fell behind New Mexico State early last weekend, as the
Aggies took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Eagles battled back
in the second and third quarters to grab the advantage and hang on for the
win. The team’s triple-option run game produced 405 yards on the ground and
423 total offensive yards against New Mexico State, which had more first downs
(30) in the contest than the Eagles (22).
Quarterback Kevin Ellison completed just three passes all game for 18 yards,
but he led the ground attack in the run-first style of play. Ellison gained
145 yards and scored twice on 17 carries for the Eagles in the win, while L.A.
Ramsby took a team-high 18 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown. This season,
Ellison has rushed for 623 yards and has scored five times.
Matt Breida leads the team in rushing this season with 676 yards, adding eight
rushing touchdowns to his resume. Between Ellison, Breida and Ramsby, the
Idaho defense will be stretched thin trying to contain three powerful,
Georgia Southern’s defense has played well during the team’s three-game win
streak. The Eagles limited South Alabama to just six points in a 28-6 Eagles
victory, and then held fellow FBS and Sun Belt newcomer Appalachian State to
14 points in a 34-14 victory. GSU even limited ACC contender NC State to 24
points in a one-point Wolfpack win in the season’s opening weekend. The team
also forced New Mexico State quarterback Tyler Rogers into throwing three
interceptions last weekend.
Edwin Jackson is the team’s leader in tackles this season with 45, adding a
forced fumble, an interception and 2.5 tackles for loss to his stat line.
Lineman Ryan George has 3.5 sacks through six games played to lead the team,
and he’ll be licking his chops to get at Linehan this weekend, who has been
sacked an other-worldly 27 times through fives games played. Defensive back
Deion Stanley recorded his third interception this season last weekend, so
he’ll be keying in on Linehan and his erroneous tendencies.
Opponents are averaging 257.6 rushing ypg against the Vandals this season, and
Georgia Southern is rushing for 373.5 ypg. That should be all there is to know
about this weekend’s matchup. The first-place Eagles, playing in front of
their home crowd, will stifle Linehan and his team, and will enjoy running
wild all over the Vandals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 34, Idaho 20