Eagles face big test in Boone

Georgia Southern may have beaten Appalachian State last year but the Eagles don't think for a second that they disposed of the Southern Conference's elite program.

"If anybody in our league is going to have an opportunity to play for a conference championship or be in the hunt for a conference championship,'' said GSU coach Jeff Monken, "they've got to go through Boone, N.C., there's no doubt about it.''

That's where the Eagles take their No. 1 ranking and undefeated record next.

But, even in first place, they're going with less swagger than respect for the team and the program that has set the SoCon standard for nearly a decade.

"They've got some great players,'' GSU defensive lineman Brent Russell said of the Mountaineers, who have earned at least a share of the last six SoCon titles. "They do some things that give anybody trouble, anybody in the nation, that's why they're one of the best teams in the country.''

"They're a lot more talented than we are,'' added Monklen. "They're faster, they're bigger. Their defensive line, they're outweighing us by 40, 60 pounds in some places. At wide receiver, that quick kid they've got who is 6-5, 220 pounds. We don't have anybody like that.''

But Southern does have a renewed confidence that has grown every week since last year's win over ASU, which was ranked No. 1 at the time.

It has continued to grow through victories in 12 of their last 13 games, including all seven this season. Although none of those wins have come against a team as good as the one they'll see Saturday.

"We've definitely got to take care of the football,'' said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw. "They're too good of a football team for us to keep giving it to them and keep getting extra possessions.''

"If you do those things against a team as good as Appalachian,'' added Monken, "you don't just get beat, you get embarrassed. And they're good enough to do that to anybody when they play really well and somebody comes in there and doesn't play very well.  So, we've got a real challenge ahead of us.''

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