Surging Eagles travel to the Lone Star State for a weeknight Sun Belt matchup against Bobcats
Georgia Southern travels to San Marcos, Texas, on just four days of rest for a weeknight Sun Belt Conference matchup against Texas State. The Eagles are coming off a 48-13 win against South Alabama, and they’re off to their first 4-1 start since 2015. The Eagles have gone 5-5 in Thursday night games.
Texas State enters Thursday’s contest on a three-game losing streak. Louisiana beat the Bobcats 42-27 on Saturday to hand them their second Sun Belt Conference loss of the season.
Texas State defeated Georgia Southern 50-35 in both teams’ first meeting in 2005. But Georgia Southern has won games in 2014 and '15 to give the Eagles a 2-1 series advantage.
Georgia Southern vs. Texas State
Kickoff: Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Georgia Southern -17
Three Things to Watch
1. Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts
Werts hasn’t attempted more than nine passes in each of Georgia Southern’s games this year, but he hasn’t needed to – he’s a true dual-threat quarterback. Werts has rushed for 454 yards (third in the Sun Belt) and eight touchdowns this season.
Werts has two 100-yard games under his belt, and he’s coming off an 85-yard, three-touchdown (two rushing, one passing) performance against South Alabama last week. He’s thrown for 363 yards and four touchdowns this season and has yet to throw an interception. Werts will stand a good chance at topping the 100-yard rushing mark Thursday against a Texas State defense that’s allowing 168.4 rushing yards per game this year.
2. Texas State’s struggling offense
Texas State entered the 2018 season having earned seven wins over the last three seasons. And with a daunting portion of their Sun Belt schedule awaiting, chances for the Bobcats to notch wins from this point on are just that much slimmer.
Texas State’s lone win this year came in the form of a 36-20 victory against FCS opponent Texas Southern on Sept. 8. The Bobcats have dropped three in a row since then. Texas State’s offensive struggles currently have it ranked last in the Sun Belt, and the Bobcats have averaged just 24.4 points per game this season, which has them tied at No. 103 in the FBS in scoring offense.
Georgia Southern’s opponents haven’t had much success scoring on the Eagles’ defense. The unit is ranked 20th nationally scoring defense at 18.2 points per game allowed.
3. Georgia Southern’s dynamic backfield
The Eagles enter their weeknight matchup ranked first in the Sun Belt in rushing offense (275.2 ypg). Georgia Southern has amassed 1,376 yards on the ground and average 5.6 yards per carry. The Eagles’ 15 rushing touchdowns also are a conference best.
While Werts’ 454 rushing yards and eight touchdowns lead the team, Wesley Fields and Monteo Garrett have contributed to Georgia Southern’s success on the ground as well.
Fields had a team-high 811 rushing yards last season, and he enters this game with 379 yards (5.4 ypc) and three touchdowns. He's run for 179 yards in the last two games alone. Garrett gained 91 yards on 11 carries last week against South Alabama, and has 253 yards (5.8 ypc) and three scores this year.
Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford has guided the Eagles to a 4-1 record in his first full year at the helm, putting his team just two wins away from clinching bowl eligibility for the first time since 2015.
Eagles Quarterback Shai Werts has been a dynamic threat on offense this season, and the defense has done its part with it’s a plus-10 turnover margin, which is tied for second in the FBS.
Georgia Southern should move to 3-0 in Sun Belt play and stay tied with Troy for first place in the East Division with a road victory against Texas State.
Prediction: Georgia Southern 40, Texas State 17
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star, Hayes also has been an invited guest on "The Paul Finebaum Show." Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.
(Top photo by Frank Fortune, courtesy of gseagles.com)