SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - What a difference a year makes.
Six games into the 2017 season, Georgia Southern was 0-6 and had just replaced Tyson Summers as head coach with Chad Lunsford on an interim basis.
Six games into the 2018 season, now-permanent coach Lunsford has the Eagles at 5-1 and just one win from bowl eligibility.
For the Eagles, getting to a postseason game has been a goal all season. Now it’s just within their grasp. A win Saturday over New Mexico State would have the Eagles qualified for a bowl game for just the second time in program history.
“It would mean a lot. It’s a big goal,” says sophomore linebacker Chris Harris, Jr. “We wanted a bowl game last year, but you all saw how that went. So it’d be great to get one.”
Georgia Southern knows a bowl game would be a large step for a program that went 2-10 just last season. But Lunsford doesn’t want his Eagles focusing on the end game just yet.
“Being able to go ahead and get that would be one thing we could check off the list," Lunsford says. "But if we start trying to worry about the final picture, I think we get away from what we’re trying to do daily, which is be 1-0 this week.”
The Eagles travel to Las Cruces, NM Saturday for their second straight long road trip. It will be the fifth straight year Georgia Southern has met the Aggies. The last four contests between the two were Sun Belt Conference contests. With NMSU now an FBS independent, this will be the Eagles' final non-conference game of the year.
The Aggies went to a bowl game for the first time since 1957, but enter Saturday’s contest at 2-4. Despite their record, Lunsford says he’s seen some impressive things out of NMSU.
“They have some really good perimeter players that when they get the ball, they can do some things with it. Their quarterback has done a really good job as a redshirt freshman, just going out there and making plays for them," he says. "The one thing that you can really see on film is that they never quit. They continue to battle, and they continue to try and make plays as the game goes on.”
The Eagles kick off against New Mexico State Saturday at 6:00 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.