Story Courtesy Georgia Southern Athletics
The Georgia Southern Athletics Department and the Sun Belt Conference announced Tuesday the Eagles’ 2018 football schedule, one that includes six home games for the first time since 2015, a three-time College Football Playoff participant, at least two nationally televised games and six contests against teams that played in bowl games last year. It will be the first full season at the helm of the program for new head coach Chad Lunsford, who was named the full-time head coach prior to the 2017 season finale.
Sept. 1: South Carolina State
Sept. 8: UMass
Sept. 15: at Clemson
Sept. 22: OPEN
Sept. 29: Arkansas State
Oct. 6: South Alabama
Oct. 11: at Texas State (Thurs.; ESPNU)
Oct. 20: at New Mexico State
Oct. 25: Appalachian State (Thurs.; ESPNU)
Nov. 3: at ULM *
Nov. 10: Troy *
Nov. 17: at Coastal Carolina
Nov. 24: at Georgia State
“This is a great schedule and is one that will allow us to hopefully have some early success to build momentum,” Lunsford said. “Opening the season with four of our first five games at home is great and will allow Eagle Nation to enjoy watching their team early on. There’s nothing like playing at home in front of a packed house and I hope our fans will take advantage of this opportunity to see us play in Paulson. We also get a chance to play two nationally televised games, which is huge in recruiting and the back end of the season sets up for us to hopefully make a push for the inaugural Sun Belt Championship Game.”
A Thursday night ESPNU game against Appalachian State on Oct. 25 highlights GS’s schedule at Paulson Stadium, along with five home Saturday contests against Sun Belt foes Arkansas State, South Alabama and Troy and non-conference home tilts against South Carolina State and UMass.
The Eagles will open the 2018 season at home for the first two games, taking on South Carolina State on Sept. 1 and UMass on Sept. 8. Southern will head to Clemson on Sept. 15 to take on the Clemson Tigers, who won the national title two seasons ago. The final non-conference game comes in late October as the Eagles head west to New Mexico State to take on the Aggies in Las Cruces on Oct. 20. Presbyterian College was originally scheduled as the opener, but conflicts necessitated the late change to SCSU.
Georgia Southern opens up Sun Belt play at the end of September, hosting the Red Wolves of Arkansas State on Sept. 29. October begins with the Eagles’ fourth home game as they host South Alabama on Oct. 6 followed by their first Thursday night game of the season five days later as they travel to San Marcos to take on Texas State on ESPNU on Oct. 11. The Eagles will head back west a week later, taking on the Aggies in non-conference action. The month of October wraps up with a second national broadcast game as the Eagles host defending conference co-champs Appalachian State on Thursday, Oct. 25 in an ESPNU game. It marks the fifth straight season the two teams have played on a Thursday night under the lights and on national television.
GS will play four games in November, three of them on the road. The Eagles open the month on the road against ULM in Louisiana on Nov. 3 and then play their final home game on Nov. 10 against the defending conference co-champions in Troy. The final two games of the season are on the road but in close proximity, at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 17 and at in-state rival Georgia State to end the regular season on Nov. 24.
In all, the Eagles will face six teams that played in bowl games last season: Clemson (Sugar Bowl/CFP), New Mexico State (Arizona Bowl champs), Appalachian State (co-SBC champ; Dollar General Bowl champs), Troy (co-SBC champs; New Orleans Bowl champs); Arkansas State (Camellia Bowl), Georgia State (Cure Bowl champs).
Georgia Southern will have three open Saturdays, including one full bye week. The Eagles will not play the two Saturdays (Oct. 13 and Oct. 27) after the Thursday night games against Texas State on Oct. 11, as well as Saturday, Oct. 27, following the Thursday night game against App State on Oct. 25. The bye week for Georgia Southern comes early this season as the Eagles will not play on Sept. 22.
The conference, which is pared down to 10 teams this year with the loss of Idaho and NMSU, will be split into two five-team divisions and have a championship game on Dec. 1 at the higher-ranked team’s home stadium. Georgia Southern will be grouped in the East Division with Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Troy, Georgia Southern and Georgia State.