WHERE: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Georgia

KICKOFF: 6 p.m. Saturday

WEB: ESPN+

ALL-TIME SERIES: Georgia Southern leads, 3-0

LAST MEETING: Nov. 28, 2011, won by Georgia Southern 35-23 in NCAA quarterfinals

LAST WEEK: Maine defeated Sacred Heart, 42-14; Georgia Southern lost to LSU, 55-3

WHEN MAINE HAS THE BALL: The Black Bears traditionally want to run the ball first, but that may be changing. QB Chris Ferguson threw for a career-high 423 yards in the opener, hitting six different receivers among his 23 completions. Maine did run for 151 yards, led by Emmanuel Reed’s 61, and has a veteran offensive line, so don’t expect the Black Bears to abandon the rush completely. But the Eagles gave up 350 passing yards last week to LSU and Maine is confident its receivers can win all the one-on-one battles. If the offensive line can hold off the Eagles’ pass rush, look for Maine to have success in the air again.

WHEN GEORGIA SOUTHERN HAS THE BALL: The Eagles run the triple-option out of the pistol formation, with the quarterback in the backfield, not under center. This puts a lot of pressure on perimeter defenders. With a big, physical, athletic offensive line, Georgia Southern is going to run the ball as much as possible. Even last week, in a blowout loss, the Eagles only threw the ball 11 times for 24 yards. Look for a heavy dose of running backs Logan Wright and J.D. King, a transfer from Oklahoma State.

KEY STAT: 10 – consecutive games that Georgia Southern has won when it outrushes its opponent.

OUTLOOK: Once again, this one might come down to whether Maine’s rush defense, one of the best in the nation among FCS teams, can slow a run-oriented offense. The Eagles have a size advantage up front – their offensive line averages 302 pounds while Maine’s four-man defensive front averages 268 pounds – but if Maine’s pressure defense, especially on the outside with LBs Jaron Grayer and Adrian Otero, can disrupt the option game, Maine’s defense can slow the Eagles. Offensively, the Black Bears are going to have to win the one-on-one battles on the outside and strike for some big plays.

OF NOTE: Maine is ranked sixth in the nation in both FCS polls. … The Black Bears are 3-17 all-time against schools from the Football Bowl Subdivision, including a 31-28 win over Western Kentucky in Week 2 last year. … Maine is receiving $325,000 from Georgia Southern for this matchup. … Maine will be without LB Deshawn Stevens, who suffered a season-ending injury to the Achilles tendon in his right leg in the season opener. Stevens led the Black Bears with 120 tackles last year. … Taji Lowe, who was suspended for the first game for violating team rules, will start in Stevens’ spot. Left tackle Tyler Royal will also return to the lineup after missing the opener with an injury. … Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts will be a game-time decision after being knocked out of the season opener. And DE Justin Ellis is out for the season with a knee injury. In addition, Georgia Southern is expected to be without RB Wesley Kennedy III and punter Magill Bauerle, both ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA.

— Mike Lowe

 


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