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The Sports Network
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Dec. 8, noon ET
FACTS & STATS: Site: Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium (20,068) -- Norfolk, Va. Surface: Astroturf GameDay Grass 3D. Television: ESPN. Announcers: Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb. Home Record: Georgia Southern 6-1; Old Dominion 6-1. Away Record: Georgia Southern 3-2; Old Dominion 5-0. Series Record: Georgia Southern (1-0). Last Meeting: Dec. 3, 2011 (Georgia Southern, 55-48 at Georgia Southern). Conference: Georgia Southern - Southern; Old Dominion - Colonial Athletic Association. Nicknames: Georgia Southern Eagles; Old Dominion Monarchs. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Georgia Southern (6); Old Dominion (3). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Georgia Southern (5); Old Dominion (4). Head Coaches: Georgia Southern - Jeff Monken (3rd season, 30-11 at Georgia Southern and overall); Old Dominion - Bobby Wilder (4th season, 38-9 at Old Dominion and overall). Playoff Records: Georgia Southern (6 National Championships - 1985-86, 89-90, 99-2000 - 44-12); Old Dominion (2-1). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Georgia Southern 18 (1985-90, 1993, 1995, 1997-2002, 2004-05, 10-11); Old Dominion 1 (2011). Current Playoffs Streak: Georgia Southern has won six of its last eight playoff games; Old Dominion has won two of its last three playoff games.
GAME NOTES: Last season in the second round of the FCS playoffs, Georgia Southern hosted Old Dominion, a program which was making its first-ever playoff appearance. The Monarchs gave GSU all it could handle in an offensive shootout, before the Eagles managed to escape with a 55-48 victory.
Now, the tides have turned, as Old Dominion gets to play host at S.B. Ballard Stadium, with a trip to the FCS semifinals on the line.
There's no denying that both teams find success through their identities. ODU ranks No. 1 in the FCS in passing offense with 391 yards per game and Georgia Southern ranks first in rushing, averaging 393 yards per game.
The question is not who will stop, but who will slow down the other team, and/or create more turnovers.
As if the offenses weren't impressive enough - averaging 46 and 34 points per game, respectively - both quarterbacks are no stranger to the spotlight.
Georgia Southern signal-caller Jerick McKinnon rushed for 316 yards and accounted for three touchdowns against Central Arkansas last week. He fell just 17 yards short of Adrian Peterson's school-record 333-yard rushing performance against Massachusetts in the 1999 playoffs. In 12 games this season, McKinnon is averaging 123 rushing yards per contest and 7.1 yards per carry, and has scored 15 touchdowns on the ground.
ODU gunslinger Taylor Heinicke added to his own hoopla last week versus Coastal Carolina, throwing for six touchdowns and 497 yards, and rushing for 45 yards and two touchdowns. He set an FCS playoff single-game record for total offense with 542 yards. He needs 208 passing yards to tie Steve McNair's 1994 single-season FCS record of 4,863 yards. In 12 games, the sophomore has thrown for 41 touchdowns and completed 68 percent of his throws.
The Monarchs have some concerns defensively and give up 163 rushing yards per game, which ranks 66th in the FCS. Opponents are scoring 28 points per game for an average of 4.1 yards per carry and have scored 21 rushing touchdowns this season.
Georgia Southern's biggest concern has to be the Monarchs' quick-strike ability. Coach Jeff Monken's triple option offense will need to take care of the ball and produce long, effective scoring drives. If Heinicke and his talented group of receivers can keep the pressure on the Eagles' secondary, the Monarchs will get their shot at redemption.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Old Dominion 38, Georgia Southern 35.
12/05 14:14:41 ET
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