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Column: Ready for some Valdosta State and Georgia Southern football

State schools playing important games on Saturday.

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.

Pro Roof GA

A host of a sports radio show asked me a good question on air yesterday.

This was the question:

If I could only watch one football game Saturday would I watch Valdosta State in the NCAA Division II national championship or Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl?

My first response was that he wasn’t asking me a fair question. I would prefer to watch both of the Peach State college teams play on Saturday, I said.

I suppose he knew that would be my reaction, but he planned to humor himself by forcing me to make a decision.

So, I played along, thus fulfilling my role in this little situation.

If pressed to choose between the two very attractive options, I told him I would go with Valdosta State and the national championship game.

My reasoning was simple. It is a national title game and it automatically becomes more significant in my mind because a Georgia team is involved.

As for Georgia Southern, man I wish the Eagles were still playing for national championships, too.

That’s one of the biggest reasons I still struggle with the school’s decision to make the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision series. I’ve always been used to watching Georgia Southern in the playoffs in the Football Championship Series ranks, previously known as Division 1-AA.

I have fond memories of watching Erk Russell’s boys playing out in Tacoma, Wash., for national championships. Then later, the Eagles hosted some title games in Statesboro and then also went to Chattanooga to claim their last two.

Oh, those were the days with Tracy Hamm, Joe Ross, Greg Hill and Adrian Peterson among others.

I hope that one day Georgia Southern can become today’s UCF and crack the New Year’s Six bowl games. Or should they ever expand the College Football Playoff, maybe the Eagles can make it as a non-Power 5 school some day.

This year, though, the Eagles are in Saturday’s Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama.

There, the Eagles will play in the old Cramton Bowl, which was the longtime host of the old Blue-Gray college all-star game that was often played on Christmas Day.

It’s a neat little venue. I’ve been there and laid eyes on it, but have never actually watched a football game there.

It’s actually a big game for the Eagles. First off, it’s only their second-ever bowl game, so this whole bowl game experience is still new to the Georgia Southern program.

On top of that, the Eagles can win 10 games for the first time in their short history at the FBS level if they can topple Eastern Michigan, so that’s a pretty big thing to play for as well.

Now, Valdosta State is obviously playing for a big prize on Saturday afternoon. The Blazers have the chance to add another D-II national crown to the school’s trophy display.

They won national titles in 2004, 2007 and 2012. Now, they will play for another one under third-year coach Kerwin Bell, a former Florida Gator quarterback who has done a whale of a job over in Winnersville, USA, reviving the proud VSU program.

The Blazers go to Saturday’s title game in McKinney, Texas, with a 13-0 record and the nation’s top offense which can score points in bunches and put on an entertaining show any time it steps onto the gridiron.

Valdosta State’s opponent on Saturday is the Ferris State Bulldogs who have plenty of bite behind their bark as they too are undefeated on the season.

Ferris has never played in the championship game, so obviously the school is fired up about this opportunity.

And the Bulldogs also have a high-scoring offense that can match that of the Blazers, which could turn this game into a shootout like no other D-II national championship game before it.

Don’t be surprised if some team and individual records for yards gained and points scored are shattered Saturday afternoon in the Longhorn State.

It sounds like it could be fun, so yeah, why wouldn’t I want to watch?

(And don’t tell that talk-show host mentioned earlier, but I’m going to watch Georgia Southern, too.)

Hail to the Peach State!



Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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