The Sports Network
By Andrew Gaddess, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 11th, 2:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gibbs Stadium (13,000) -- Spartanburg, South Carolina. Surface: Natural Grass. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Doug Bell, David Diaz-Infante. Home Record: Georgia Southern 4-2; Wofford 5-0. Away Record: Georgia Southern 5-2; Wofford 5-2. Series Record: Georgia Southern (9-7). Last Meeting: October 9, 2010 (Wofford, 33-31 at Georgia Southern). Series Streak: Wofford has won four of the last six meetings. Conference: Georgia Southern - Southern; Wofford - Southern. Nicknames: Georgia Southern Eagles; Wofford Terriers. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: Georgia Southern (20); Wofford (7). Head Coaches: Georgia Southern - Georgia Southern - Jeff Monken (8-4 at Georgia Southern at Overall); Wofford - Mike Ayers (155-106-1 at Wofford, 165-127-2 Overall). All-Time Record: Georgia Southern (327-180-10); Wofford (473-470-36). Playoff Records: Georgia Southern (40-10); Wofford (4-3). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Georgia Southern 16 (1985-90, 93, 95, 97-99, 2000-02, 04-05); Wofford 3 (2003, 07-08).
GAME NOTES: What to know: The Georgia Southern Eagles will face a familiar foe and a similar attack when they square off against their SoCon rival Wofford on Saturday.
Following a 41-16 victory over South Carolina State in the first round, the Eagles pulled a 31-15, second-round surprise at No. 4 (and No. 2 playoff seed) William & Mary, 31-15.
Although the offense tallied 31 points, the defense was the main catalyst in the win, holding The Tribe scoreless in the second half and refusing to allow an offensive touchdown. Josh Rowe led the Eagles with 12 tackles and Terico Agnew recorded two sacks. The Tribe was limited to just 214 yards of total offense.
The performance was nothing new, as the Eagles currently sport the No. 9 scoring defense in the nation (17.6 ppg). They also rank No. 6 in total defense (280.3 ypg), No. 14 in pass defense (161.6 ypg) and are tied for No. 9 with 29 forced turnovers. Brent Russell's eight sacks set the tone and Derek Heyden's 85 tackles pace the squad.
While the defense was stifling against William & Mary, the offense was punishing. The Eagles racked up 429 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jaybo Shaw attempted just six passes, but ran for 87 yards and three scores. Robert Brown scored a rushing touchdown of his own and ran for a team-high 178 yards.
As with the defense's effort, the offense's output was nothing new. The Eagles rank No. 3 in the FCS in rushing (268.6 ypg), second only to Wofford (307.3 ypg) among remaining playoff teams.
As with Georgia Southern, the running game is crucial to the Terriers' attack. Last week, they employed the run to seal a victory over Jacksonville State. With 3:51 remaining and Jacksonville State trailing 17-14, the Terriers ran the ball five consecutive times to kill the clock.
Eric Breitenstein carried the ball 28 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He now holds the school's single-season rushing record (1,537 yards). Mitch Allen managed the offense well, passing for 86 yards on 15 attempts and rushing for another 27 yards. Brenton Bersin caught six of Allen's eight completions for 70 yards.
Although it allowed nine fourth-quarter points, the Wofford defense was solid overall. Mike Niam led the way with 13 tackles, and Jamar Reaves and Preston Roseboro each had an interception. Jacksonville State entered the game averaging 33.8 ppg (No. 10 FCS).
The Terriers are not far behind the Eagles in terms of defensive prowess, ranking No. 12 in the FCS is scoring (18.58 ppg) and No. 9 in total defense (289.2 ypg). They have a force on the defensive line as well in Ameet Pall (12.5 sacks).
With strong defenses and powerful triple option attacks, these teams are distinctively similar, as evident by their Oct. 9 meeting, when the Terriers narrowly edged the Eagles, 33-31. Of course that game came down to a Breitenstein touchdown run, which put the Terriers on top, 33-31, and two defensive stands to secure the win. The Terriers outgained the Eagles, 302-243, on the ground.
This game promises to be another tight-fisted affair. The Terriers' only loss in their last 11 games came at the hands of Appalachian State, which the Eagles defeated on Nov. 6 to initiate their current five-game winning streak. Georgia Southern appears to be hitting on all cylinders heading into a winnable game for either team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 23, Wofford 19.
12/08 17:47:54 ET