Undefeated Georgia Southern (5-0, 4-0) will host rival Furman (3-2, 2-1) a week after nearly giving away a 21-7 halftime lead to Chattanooga and breaking the Eagles' undefeated streak. The Paladins are rebuilding under former Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bruce Fowler, who formerly coached at Furman as part of Bobby Johnson's staff, before following Johnson to the Commodores.
The road team has won every game in this heated Southern Conference rivalry since 2007. The Statesboro Herald's Matt Yogus profiled the colorful history between the two schools, including mascot hijinks that became an omen for GSU:
"There's always the good memories and there's always the bad memories," [GSU defensive line coach Victor] Cabral said about the Furman rivalry. "They were our first home playoff loss in 2001. We were up at halftime, we ended up with a sack at the end of the half and we were getting the ball back. Then some events happened that weren't so great."
The following year in Greenville, S.C., the Eagles got their revenge in a game that began with a mishap involving Furman's mascot.
"That was the year the knight fell off the horse," Cabral laughed.
The Eagles won that game 42-21.
Georgia Southern's triple option (inherited from Paul Johnson's days in Statesboro) leads the FCS in rushing at 375 yards a game, but their secondary will be the focus on Saturday. Furman quarterback Chris Forcier, a UCLA transfer, boasts a 190.5 passer efficiency rating in a very balanced Paladin offense.