A bunch of bowl games that would’ve been improved by including Georgia Southern
The Sun Belt champs weren’t allowed to go bowling this year. That’s lame.
First-year FBS program Georgia Southern knew before the season began that it wouldn’t make a bowl. NCAA rules prevent rookie teams from going bowling because of very important reasons, including reasons such as reasons; these reasons are important.
Undeterred, GSU went 9-3 and added its first FBS banner to its collection, which already included six FCS national championships, and led the country in rushing yards per play and per game. The NCAA twice denied its bowl waiver requests.
While beating down a Sun Belt schedule isn’t the greatest thing ever accomplished — especially one lacking games against Arkansas State or Louisiana-Lafayette — GSU nearly beat the Orange Bowl’s No. 12 Georgia Tech in Atlanta, nearly beat the Bitcoin Bowl’s NC State in Raleigh, and played the Poinsettia Bowl’s Navy in Annapolis. This is a good team, better than the one that beat Florida in Gainesville last year.
Here are the 18 bowl-bound teams the Eagles top in a leading measure of overall quality, for one thing. GSU wouldn’t have been able to just up and replace any of them, due to the Sun Belt’s bowl ties (New Orleans, GoDaddy, Camellia), but no one has time to worry about that right now.
|Football Outsiders’ F/+|
|Toledo (GoDaddy vs. Arkansas State)||63|
|Nevada (New Orleans vs. ULL)||64|
|Western Kentucky (Bahamas vs. CMU)||65|
|San Diego State (Poinsettia vs. Navy)||66|
|Oklahoma State (Cactus vs. Washington)||68|
|Northern Illinois (Boca Raton vs. Marshall)||72|
|Rutgers (Quick Lane vs. UNC)||73|
|North Carolina (Quick Lane vs. Rutgers)||74|
|Arkansas State (GoDaddy vs. Toledo)||75|
|Central Michigan (Bahamas vs. WKU)||77|
|Illinois (Heart of Dallas vs. LA Tech)||78|
|Houston (Armed Forces vs. Pitt)||79|
|Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans vs. Nevada)||86|
|South Alabama (Camellia vs. Bowling Green)||93|
|UTEP (New Mexico vs. Utah State)||94|
|Rice (Hawaii vs. Fresno State)||95|
|Fresno State (Hawaii vs. Rice)||101|
|Bowling Green (Camellia vs. USA)||104|
But bowl season isn’t just about good games. It’s also about business. Based on 2014 home attendance alone, GSU would top these seven teams in both quality and in likely ticket sales (and this doesn’t count what might be a better way of judging the Eagles’ traveling fanbase, the 28,427 in the Georgia Dome on Oct. 25 for Georgias Southern vs. State, which was dominated by the more established program):
|Football Outsiders’ F/+||Attendance (per Wikipedia)|
|Toledo (GoDaddy vs. Arkansas State)||63||19,548|
|Rice (Hawaii vs. Fresno State)||95||18,216|
|South Alabama (Camellia vs. Bowling Green)||93||17,445|
|Western Kentucky (Bahamas vs. CMU)||65||16,306|
|Central Michigan (Bahamas vs. WKU)||77||16,306|
|Bowling Green (Camellia vs. USA)||104||15,228|
|Northern Illinois (Boca Raton vs. Marshall)||72||13,564|
Yes, CMU and WKU tied in home attendance and are traveling to the islands together.
Add in the fact (fact!) that GSU’s option run offense is more fun to watch than the average offense, and it’s clear bowl season’s juuust a little bit worse without the Eagles in it.