Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green Prediction, GoDaddy Bowl Preview

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    The MAC champion is in a remodeling mode with Bowling Green (10-3) losing head coach Dino Babers, while Georgia Southern (8-4) is in its first bowl game in the program’s history. Can the high-powered Falcons keep on rolling, or will the loaded Eagles do the Sun Belt proud? Check out the Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green prediction and GoDaddy Bowl game preview.


    Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Wednesday, December 23

    Game Time: 8:00 pm ET
    Network: ESPN
    Venue: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
    Follow and/or Contact @PeteFiutak  

    Why You Need To Care

    Georgia Southern would’ve been a strong bowl team last season, but in a transitional year the 9-3 Sun Belt champion had to watch from home. Even with a win over Florida a few years ago, and despite taking the Sun Belt by storm, this is still a growing program with a shot to show that it has more than arrived. With the No. 1 rushing attack in college football, it’s already a scary team that’s been able to establish itself, but to beat the MAC champion would be special. It would be a huge moment for Georgia Southern, and a big win for the Sun Belt depth.

    The Eagles were able to rip apart the weak and the sad, but there’s a strong win over Western Michigan on the resume. They took Georgia to overtime in a loss, but they were blown out by West Virginia in the opener, were whacked around by Appalachian State in a key 31-13 loss, and ended the regular season with a clunker of a loss to rival Georgia State.

    Bowling Green, on the other hand, closed with a flourish.

    There might have been a loss to Toledo in mid-November, but it didn’t matter. The nation’s fourth-best offense roared throughout the season, finishing with a dominant 34-14 whacking of Northern Illinois, but all the success meant a huge loss with head coach Dino Babers taking off to Syracuse. Defensive coordinator Brian Ward will take over for now, and he has plenty of work to do to figure out the Georgia Southern running game.

    Just the 12th bowl game in school history – 13th if you count the unofficial, fund-raising Mercy Bowl in 1961 – it’s been a rough run beating South Alabama in last season’s Camellia Bowl after losing four straight post-season games. However, the Falcons tend to play good bowl games with three thrillers in a row after losing 63-7 to Tulsa in the 2008 GMAC.

    These are two very different, very fun teams with lots of firepower and lots of offense. Consider it a shock if these two don’t put on one of the best shows of the bowl season.

    Why Bowling Green Will Win

    Georgia Southern can’t pass a lick.

    Last year’s Eagle offense took advantage of teams that cheated up to stop the run by taking the top of the defense with the deep ball. GSU averaged over eight yards per pass with the quarterbacks combining to hit 58% of their throws. This year, there’s nothing happening down the field with just 742 passing yards, three touchdown passes and ten interceptions. The GSU ground game might be deadly, but that’s all the Falcons will have to worry about.

    On the other side of the ball, Bowling Green should be able to air it out against a GSU secondary that was torched by Georgia State for 346 yards and three scores and allowed 200 yards or more in six of the first seven games. Most teams threw to keep up the pace, and the Eagles came up with 17 picks on the year, but teams that could throw were able to do it without a problem. There’s a decent pass rush, but it’s not deadly enough to bother Matt Johnson and the high-octane Falcon attack.

    Why Georgia Southern Will Win

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, but can Bowling Green stop the run? Getting time off to prepare is everything, getting a chance to fully focus on holding down the option attack, but it’s really, really hard to simulate the precision. Having a defensive-minded coach taking over the reins for a month should help, but can the Bowling Green linebackers figure it out? The last two games of the year were strong for the Falcons against the run, but Northern Illinois was punchless and Ball State doesn’t have much of a ground game. Before that. Ohio, Western Michigan and Toledo all ran wild, combining for 703 rushing yards with ten scores.

    Considering the Eagles rely on ball control and keeping the mistakes to a minimum, it should be a huge help that the Falcons don’t care about time of possession or penalties. They get hit for close to nine sins a game and score quickly, but they also get bounced off the field in a hurry, too. Georgia Southern gets flagged just over five times a gain and keep the ball for 33:26 an outing.

    Player Who Matters

    Can Matt Brieda find his groove again? The Georgia Southern offense has always revolved around the dangerous quarterbacks, but the team’s star running back took over early on with a tremendous run of massive yards with 137 yards or more along with 11 touchdowns in five straight games, and a 205-yard, two score performance against Texas State. This isn’t hard – when he runs well and when he’s in a groove, Georgia Southern wins. The team is 0-4 when he runs for 70 yards or fewer, 8-0 when he goes over 70 yards.

    Bowling Green’s offense revolves around the MAC’s best player this season, QB Matt Johnson. The two-time MAC champion playmaker cranked up 4,700 yards on the year with 43 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Six of those picks came in the final four games, but they didn’t really matter – he made up for the mistakes with big plays. When he’s on, forget about it, completing 70% of his throws or more six of his last ten games. A veteran who’s been through the wars, this is his shot to close out his incredible career in style.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Johnson and the Bowling Green offense will put up big numbers and come up with a terrific game, but the defense won’t be able to hit the curveball. Georgia Southern clunked hard against Georgia State in the regular season finale – it’s not going to have the same problems twice. The Eagles are 0-4 this year when running for under 233 yards, 8-0 when going over. They’ll go way over in what’ll be a blast of an offensive show.

    GoDaddy Bowl Prediction

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 45, Bowling Green 40, Line: Bowling Green -7.5, o/u: 66
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch … 4

    MORE: BOWLNANZA: 40 video previews for 40 bowl games

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