2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Preview

2018 Camellia Bowl

The 2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl is an annual postseason contest featuring the best that the MAC and Sun Belt have to offer. The 2018 edition will pit two groups of Eagles when Georgia Southern takes on Eastern Michigan on Saturday. The game will be a 5:30 PM (ET) kickoff televised by ESPN and will be played at the legendary Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. This will also be the first meeting between the two schools in football. In the four years of the game, the Sun Belt holds two victories. The MAC has one victory, and the same goes for Conference USA with the Middle Tennessee victory from last year.

Georgia Southern Eagles

It really has been a turnaround for the Eagles this season. This is the first postseason trip for Georgia Southern since 2015, and just their second bowl game since joined FBS in 2014. In 2015 they defeated Bowling Green 58-27 in the GoDaddy Bowl. Georgia Southern will look to go 2-0 all-time in bowl games. They carry a 9-3 record and a 6-2 mark in Sun Belt play. The Eagles started the season 7-1 which also included a 34-14 victory over eventual conference champion Appalachian State. They stubbed their toe late in the season with losses to Louisiana-Monroe and Troy to knock them out of contention for a conference championship berth.

The Eagles bring the best rushing attack from the Sun Belt and the most efficient passing offense in the conference. They averaged 260.8 yards per game and reached the end zone 33 times via the rushing attack. Running back Wesley Fields led the team with 959 yards and nine touchdowns. The second leading rushing on the team is quarterback Shai Werts with 822 yards and 13 scores. Werts led the efficient passing attack throwing for 954 yards with ten touchdowns and zero interceptions. On the defensive side of the ball, they are ranked third in the Sun Belt only giving up 144.2 yards per contest, and gave up only 11 touchdowns. The defense also did a good job against the pass, and intercepted opposing quarterbacks 15 times.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan finished 5-3 and third in the MAC, and are 7-5 overall. This is just the second bowl appearance for the Eagles since 1987. They were defeated 24-20 by Old Dominion in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl. A 5-7 season in 2017 left them just one win shy of bowl eligibility or they would have been competing in their third consecutive bowl. The Eagles have never made a bowl in consecutive seasons. They are riding a three game winning streak to close the regular season with victories over Central Michigan, Akron, and Kent State.

The record could have been even better due to close losses in four of the five defeats on the season. Two of those were overtime thrillers against San Diego State and eventual conference champion Northern Illinois. They are led by the third best defense in the MAC by only giving up 352.9 yards per game, and the second best scoring defense allowing just 22 points per game. They are led by All-MAC defender Maxx Crosby with 7.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. On offense, they are led by senior quarterback Tyler Wiegers. Wiegers completed 65% of his passes with 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

Georgia Southern 31, Eastern Michigan 20

Despite the standout season by Crosby, his ability to rush the passer will be negated by the rushing attack of the Georgia Southern Eagles with Fields and Werts. Run defense is a weakness of the Eastern Michigan Eagles with giving up 192.9 yards per game.