The Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-5) are set to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles (9-3) in the 2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. Kickoff is set for 5:30 EST on Saturday, December 15th at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, AL. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers opened this game up at a pick’em, but as of right now Georgia Southern is listed as a 2.5-point favorite. The total for this matchup is currently 47.5, which is what it opened up at.
Camellia Bowl Spread & Predictions: Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan
Georgia Southern had one of the best turnarounds in the entire country. Last year Georgia Southern finished just 2-10. This year they nearly flipped the script, finishing 9-3. They posted a 6-2 mark in Sun Belt play, finishing 1-game back of Appalachian State and Troy in the East division. Without a doubt their best win was a 34-14 whooping of Appalachian State on their home field in late October.
Not bad for the first full year under head coach Chad Lunsford (interim head coach final 6 games of last season). He’ll get his first crack at leading a team to a bowl victory. It’s only the second bowl appearance for Georgia Southern, who just recently made the jump from the FCS to the FBS. The only other bowl trip was in 2015, where they steamrolled Bowling Green 58-27 as a 7-point underdog.
Eastern Michigan has to be wondering what could have been. They certainly have to feel like they are better than a 7-win team. They upset Purdue on the road to start out 2-0, then came a brutal 4-game losing streak, where they lost 35-28 @ Buffalo, 23-20 @ San Diego State, 26-23 to Northern Illinois and 27-24 @ Western Michigan. That run could have derailed a lot of teams, but Eastern Michigan went 5-1 over their final 6, with the only loss coming to an Army team that finished 10-2.
You have to tip your hat to what head coach Chris Creighton has done at Eastern Michigan. This program was the laughing stock of the MAC and hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1987. He got them to a bowl in his 3rd year on the job (2016). The Eagles came up short in a 20-24 loss to Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl, but did cover as 5-point dogs.
Camellia Bowl Free Pick Against the Spread: Eastern Michigan +2.5
My early lean here would be take the points with Eastern Michigan. Simply put, I think they are the better team and the books have this line completely wrong. There’s a decent chance that if this thing doesn’t get up to 3, I’ll just take my chances with Eastern Michigan on the money line.
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No disrespect to what Georgia Southern has done in going from 2 to 9 wins, but let’s no overreact to a team that went 6-2 in Sun Belt play and had non-conference wins over the likes of South Carolina St, UMass and New Mexico State. Eastern Michigan had a win on the road against a talented Purdue team, could have easily won at San Diego State and played Army tougher than the final score would indicate.
Speaking of that game against Army, I think that’s going to pay off huge for their bowl game. Like Army, Georgia Southern runs the triple-option. They averaged 49 rush attempts (261 ypg) per game compared to 9 passes (83 ypg). Having that experience against the Black Knights can only help in their preparation for this game.
If Eastern Michigan can slow down that running game for Georgia Southern, they won’t just pull off the upset, they could win this thing going away. I definitely think there’s no doubt they are going to be extremely motivated to get a win here. There’s a lot of seniors on this roster and they are the ones responsible for turning this thing around. What better way to go out, than to deliver your school their first bowl win since 1987.
Those that have bet against Eastern Michigan outside of MAC play have certainly paid the price of late. Eastern Michigan is 11-2 ATS over the last 3 seasons in non-conference play. They are also an impressive 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record. Give me Eastern Michigan +2.5!