What you need to know about the Georgia Southern Eagles

Sep 18, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Georgia Southern Eagles running back Gerald Green (4) signals first down after a run as offensive lineman Verneal Henshaw Jr. (94) celebrates the play against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska welcomes an unfamiliar opponent to Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening in the Georgia Southern Eagles. The Cornhuskers come into the game at 1-1 after breaking their 7-game losing streak with a 38-17 win over FCS member North Dakota on Sept. 3. Georgia Southern will make a 1,201 mile trip to Memorial Stadium fresh off a 59-7 thumping of Morgan State in their first game of the season.

The Huskers and Eagles have never met on the football field before and the game is Nebraska’s 18th all time against opponents from the Sun Belt Conference. On the other end, Georgia Southern has played two Big Ten opponents in their short history in the FBS, losing on both occasions. The Eagles were an FCS member until 2014 and won the Sun Belt that same year. In their FCS tenure, Georgia Southern won six championships between 1985 and 2000.

Listed below is key facts, stats and players from Nebraska’s Week 2 opponent:

Georgia Southern background

City: Statesboro, Georgia

Stadium: Paulson Stadium (capacity 25,000)

Conference: Sun Belt Conference

NCAA Division: Football Bowl Subdivision

Colors: Blue and white

Head Coach: Clay Helton

Conference titles: 11 (1 in Sun Belt in 2014, 10 in Southern Conference)

National Championships: 6 in FCS, most recently in 2000

The 2021 Season

The Eagles went 3-9 last year, finishing fifth out of five teams in the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division. Following a 59-33 win against Arkansas State, Georgia Southern was 2-3 before losing six out of their last seven games. Their two other wins came against Gardner-Webb and Texas State.

Head coach Chad Lunsford was fired after four games, being replaced by interim head coach Kevin Whitley, the Eagles’ current cornerbacks coach. 2021 was the first losing season for the team since 2017, where Georgia Southern went 2-10. The Eagles are 54-47 since joining the FBS.

2021 Team Stats

Points Per Game: 20.25

Rushing Yards Per Game: 193.3

Passing Yards Per Game: 147.08

Total Offense: 340.38

Turnover Margin: -8

Points Allowed Per Game: 31.42

Opp. Rushing Yards Per Game: 152.5

Opp. Passing Yards Per Game: 289.17

Opp. Total Offense Per Game: 441.67

Head Coach: Clay Helton

Helton took the reins at Georgia Southern this past year after directing USC for seven seasons. A former college quarterback at Auburn and Houston, Helton is 47-24 overall as a head coach.

The Eagles’ head coach began as a running backs coach at Duke in 1996 before joining his father, Kim, on staff at Houston until the elder Helton’s last season with the Cougars in 1999. Kim Helton is currently an offensive analyst for Western Kentucky and has spent time coaching in the NFL and CFL as well. From 2000 to 2009, Clay coached offensive position groups before heading to USC in 2010. There, Helton spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator, one season as the interim head coach in 2013 and seven years at the head job following the firing of Steve Sarkisian. Helton won a Pac-12 conference title with the Trojans in 2017.

Series History

Saturday will mark the first meeting all-time between Nebraska and Georgia Southern.

The Huskers are 15-2 against Sun Belt opponents with their last matchup against the Group of 5 conference being a 35-21 win over South Alabama in 2019. The year prior, the Huskers were upset by Sun Belt member Troy 24-19.

Georgia Southern is winless in two contest against Big Ten foes, losing to Minnesota in 2019 and Indiana in 2017. The Eagles lone win against a Power 5 opponent came in 2013 when they stunned Florida 26-20.

Returning Starters


WR Khaleb Hood

WR Amare Jones

TE Jjay McAfee

TE Beau Johnson

OL Caleb Kelly

OL Logan Langemeier

OL Khalil Crowder

OL Brian Miller

K Alex Raynor


DE Justin Ellis

DL Dillon Springer

DB Anthony Wilson

DB Justin Birdsong

P Anthony Beck II

Former Eagles Currently in the NFL

RB Jerick McKinnon (Kansas City Chiefs)

RB Matt Breida (New York Giants)

K Younghoe Koo (Atlant Falcons)

CB Kindle Vildor (Chicago Bears)

K Tyler Bass (Buffalo Bills)

DE Raymond Johnson III (New York Giants)

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Story originally appeared on Cornhuskers Wire