The Georgia Southern Eagles seem on paper to be too much for The Citadel Bulldogs to handle Saturday, but history between the two schools suggests this year's edition will find a way to be a close game.
Jeff Hartsell at The Post and Courier wrote on the state of the series over the past two years, an annual national championship contender in Georgia Southern and a middling SoCon team in The Citadel.
The Eagles have won each of the last five meetings, but the average margin of victory has only been 7.2 points, Hartsell reported. And as Hartsell noted, that 7.2 points-per-game winning margin included a 20-0 Georgia Southern win in 2010, a game in which The Citadel somehow fumbled nine times.
One possible way to explain it is that both schools run the unusual flexbone triple-option offense. It's a rare system seen these days, and if both teams practice against it every day of the season, that would explain how The Citadel can hang with it and not, say, Wofford. Over the same five-year span above described, The Citadel's average margin of defeat to Wofford is 25.2 points, Hartsell wrote.
Or it could be a simple matter of The Citadel getting up to play a big-time opponent. From Hartsell's article:
"It's because of their tradition," said Citadel senior safety Austin Boyle, whose team hosts the FCS third-ranked Eagles on Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium. "They are nationally ranked every year, they've won (six) national championships, so everyone is excited to play them.
"If you can't get excited to play Georgia Southern, you are playing the wrong sport."
Georgia Southern and The Citadel kick off Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.