(10) Old Dominion (10-2) at (3) Georgia Southern (9-2)
The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 3rd, 1 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allen E. Paulson Stadium (18,000) -- Statesboro, Georgia. Surface: Natural Grass. Television: ESPN3.com, ESPN Game Plan. Announcers: Doug Bell and John Bunting. Home Record: Old Dominion 6-1; Georgia Southern 6-0. Away Record: Old Dominion 4-1; Georgia Southern 3-2. Series Record: First Meeting. Conference: Old Dominion - Colonial Athletic Association; Georgia Southern - Southern. Nicknames: Old Dominion Monarchs; Georgia Southern Eagles. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: Old Dominion (10); Georgia Southern (3). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Old Dominion (NS); Georgia Southern (3). Head Coaches: Old Dominion - Bobby Wilder (3rd season, 27-7 at Old Dominion and Overall); Georgia Southern - Jeff Monken (2nd season, 19-7 at Georgia Southern and Overall). All-Time Record: Old Dominion (27-7); Georgia Southern (275-106-1). FCS Playoff Records: Old Dominion (1-0); Georgia Southern (6 National Championships - 1985-86, 89-90, 99-2000 - 41-11). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Old Dominion 0; Georgia Southern 17 (1985-90, 1993, 1995, 1997-2002, 2004-05, 2010).
GAME NOTES: Last week, Old Dominion roared to a 35-18 demolition of new rival Norfolk State in the first round, the first FCS playoff appearance for each program. However, Georgia Southern will be a much tougher, and more experienced, team than Norfolk State, and is looking to build on its national semifinal berth last season.
In its three years of existence, Old Dominion has never faced an offense like Georgia Southern's triple option. Engineered by quarterback Jaybo Shaw, the option has made life difficult for opponents (318.7 ypg), including the FBS' top-ranked run defense, Alabama. In its regular-season finale, Georgia Southern rushed for 302 yards against the Crimson Tide defense, which had allowed just 51.9 yards per game prior to the meeting.
Old Dominion freshman quarterback Taylor Heinicke had a monster day in the first round against Norfolk State, passing for five touchdowns and 269 yards. Since his redshirt was lifted in Week 5, Heinicke has passed for 2,039 yards (254.9 ypg), 20 touchdowns and, most impressively, just one interception.
The strength of both defenses, and the star power, lie in the defensive line. Georgia Southern's Brent Russell, a defensive tackle and the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, has 11.5 tackles for loss despite facing constant double- teams all season. His counterpart, Ronnie Cameron, has 16 tackles for loss and helped the Monarchs limit opponents to just 115.9 yard per game - of course, they haven't faced the triple option yet.
Georgia Southern's Laron Scott (33.4 average) is a dangerous kick returner, often setting up great field position for the Eagles offense, and kicker Adrian Mora (the FCS record holder for consecutive extra points at 146) has an accurate leg. However, Old Dominion's special teams are just as impressive. The Monarchs have blocked 10 kicks (five field goals, five punts) and punter Jonathon Plisco (46.1 avg.) has the best average of any punter left in the playoffs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 31, Old Dominion 23.
11/30 14:37:36 ET