Plenty of points were expected in the GoDaddy Bowl, and the scoreboard was active all night, but it was Georgia Southern that rolled to a 58-27 win over Bowling Green. Here’s the rundown of how it went down:
What the win means for Georgia Southern: It is a huge win for the Eagles, because it’s their first bowl victory in program history. This was Georgia Southern’s second year in FBS play after moving up from the FCS. The GoDaddy Bowl was a chance to make a statement before a national television audience. And that was good news after last season, when despite winning the Sun Belt, the Eagles didn’t get a shot at a bowl because of the NCAA’s “transitional year” rule that bars first-year FBS teams from postseason play. The Eagles made the most of their opportunity on Wednesday by soundly defeating an excellent team from the MAC and putting the finishing touches on a 9-4 season.
What the loss means for Bowling Green: The Falcons (10-4) have played in bowls for four straight seasons, but this is their third loss in those trips. Being defeated by double digits certainly leaves a bad taste, even if it was with an interim head coach (Georgia Southern was also dealing with those circumstances). The Falcons were in control of this game early and were in it for the better part of three quarters, but not being able to keep up with the Eagles offensively is not the way Bowling Green expected this one to go. The turnovers -- the Falcons’ pair turned into 14 Georgia Southern points -- probably hurt the most. Still, it's a good season overall for the Falcons; 10 wins and a MAC championship is nothing to be disappointed about.
The game turned when ... Bowling Green failed on a fourth-and-9 attempt with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter. The Falcons trailed Georgia Southern 30-27 at that point and were nearing the red zone when they decided to go for it, but running back Travis Greene was stopped for only a 1-yard gain and Bowling Green turned the ball over on downs. On the next play, Georgia Southern’s Favian Upshaw broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run to extend the Eagles’ lead to 37-27. Bowling Green turned it over on its next drive. Georgia Southern scored after that -- the Eagles racked up 28 straight points after that turnover on downs -- and ran away with the win as the Falcons never saw the end zone again.
Player of the game: Upshaw. The Eagles played two quarterbacks -- Kevin Ellison started -- but Upshaw was lethal in the running game, rushing for four touchdowns and 199 yards on 12 carries, all in the second half. Ellison even had some fun with Upshaw’s big performance, being playfully animated with Upshaw on the sideline after his final touchdown run. Upshaw’s 199 yards were part of an impressive 452-yard rushing effort for the Eagles.