Georgia Southern's Eagles Will Soar Past Eastern Michigan's In Camellia Bowl

Sunday, December 9, 2018 1:49 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 1:49 PM UTC

Get the latest Camellia Bowl college football picks on Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern. The game from Montgomery, Alabama, is Saturday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Camellia Bowl:Eastern Michigan (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Georgia Southern (9-3 SU, 9-3 ATS)Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AlabamaFree NCAAF Pick: Georgia Southern Eagles MLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Georgia Southern Eagles, relatively new to the FBS, are playing in their second bowl ever and could achieve their first double-digit win season. They won their only previous bowl game. The Eastern Michigan Eagles are 1-1 in bowls.

How They Got Here

Georgia Southern returned to a triple-option offense and was rewarded with a 9-3 season after going 2-10 last year. Georgia Southern has won its last two games by double digits and finished third in the Sun Belt East. Its big win came against eventual conference champion App State, 34-14. Eastern Michigan has won three in a row. Earlier in the season, it upset Purdue 20-19.

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Why Eastern Michigan Can Win/Cover

Eastern Michigan possesses one of the nation’s best scoring defenses. It ranks 28th in opposing points per game, conceding an average of 22 points per game. Eastern Michigan has faced a number of strong rush attacks. For example, it was up 28-3 against Toledo before taking its foot off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter to win 28-26. It still held running back Bryant Koback to 2.0 YPC although his season average is 6.3 YPC. Eastern Michigan held Buffalo, one of the MAC’s best rushing offenses, to 4.0 YPC, .7 below its average. Georgia Southern has failed to cover three in a row when running for fewer than 200 yards.

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Why Georgia Southern Can Win/Cover

It’s really hard to stop Georgia Southern’s unique triple-option offense, which is why it ranks 10th, averaging 256 rush yards per game. Eastern Michigan faced one option team, Army, and lost 37-22. Eastern Michigan actually limited its rush attack to below its season average in yards per carry. However, Eastern Michigan was not additionally prepared for its passing attack and Army’s quarterback threw for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts is likewise a passing threat. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions. He is one of four Georgia Southern players who averages more than 5 YPC on at least 50 carries. Georgia Southern averages 30 points per game and is 6-0 ATS when scoring at least as many.

Common Opponents/Series History

Both teams faced a Power 5 opponent. Georgia Southern got rocked by Clemson 38-7. Eastern Michigan faced a much easier test in Purdue, which ran for more than 300 yards, but was limited by its own turnovers and poor passing attack. It fumbled twice in Eastern Michigan territory.

The Verdict

The strength of Eastern Michigan’s defense is its secondary. It ranks 12th in opposing passer rating. The problem is that it won’t get to show off its strength against a Georgia Southern offense that ranks fourth in run play frequency. Georgia Southern boasts a number of strong runners, including quarterback Werts, who could or could not be the one to carry the ball on a given play. Eastern Michigan will struggle in the trenches, which is a crucial battle to win against an option offense. Eastern Michigan’s defensive line ranks 114th in opportunity rate, meaning that it very often allows the opposing offensive line to do its job and get its runner to gain at least 4 yards.

Conversely, Georgia Southern’s offensive line ranks 25th in opportunity rate. Although Eastern Michigan has stopped some good rushing attacks, when it did, it also got burned by the opposing quarterback — as was the case with Buffalo and Army. Georgia Southern’s passing attack is much improved and constitutes a formidable weapon if Eastern Michigan focuses too heavily on the opposing run threat — which Eastern Michigan will need to do because of its vulnerable defensive line.

On defense, Georgia Southern’s defensive backs work great together because they all returned this year. They rank 53rd in opposing passer rating. Eastern Michigan quarterback Tyler Wiegers and his receiving crew that suffered significant attrition during the offseason tend to struggle against similarly ranked passing attacks. For instance, Wiegers mustered a passer rating well below his season average against Central Michigan and Akron. It still scored 27 points against Akron thanks to its ground game and turnovers. But Georgia Southern gives the ball away less than every other team. Plus, it ranks 47th in opposing YPC, whereas Akron ranks 89th. Georgia Southern held Troy’s B.J. Smith, for example, 1.6 YPC below his season average on 22 carries. The game opened as a pick 'em on the college football odds board, and the line has moved toward Georgia Southern. For your NCAAF picks, take Georgia Southern on the moneyline.

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