Our Best Bet at the Camellia Bowl

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Georgia Southern vs Buffalo Odds

The Georgia Southern Eagles and Buffalo Bulls will play in the 2022 Camellia Bowl today at noon ET in Montgomery, AL.

However, we will call it “The Vantrease Bowl” in honor of Kyle Vantrease, the longtime Buffalo quarterback who transferred this offseason and now pilots this dynamic south Georgia offense.

Vantrease threw for 25 touchdowns during his time with the Bulls, a number he matched during his only regular season as a signalman in Statesboro. He will look to add to that total against his old team, which ranks 98th in defensive SP+ this season.

That rating is actually significantly higher than Georgia Southern’s own porous unit, so this game has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. Should you play the total or is there a better angle to find in this game?

Maurice Linguist’s second year in charge in Buffalo gets off to an inauspicious start as the Bulls lose their first three games of 2022, including a last-second loss to FCS Holy Cross. But they righted the ship in league play, winning the next five games.

After a late season swoon dropped their record to 5-6, they needed to beat lowly Akron in the final – rescheduled for conference championship weekend – to earn bowl eligibility. The Bulls did it in unimpressive fashion, trailing 16-0 and needing a late comeback to beat the Zips.

The Bulls’ offense — ranked 93rd on the SP+ — is led by quarterback Cole Snyder, a low transfer from Rutgers’ depth chart. Snyder started all 12 regular season games; he completed 59.2% of his passes for 2,765 yards, along with 17 touchdowns and eight picks.

It’s hard to find an area where Buffalo’s offense excels, as it’s near the bottom of the FBS on most race metrics. When passing metrics, it’s more middle of the package. (55th in passing success, 77th in passing explosives).

Buffalo games are unpredictable and prone to big plays and havoc. The Bulls offense is one of the nation’s worst at preventing Havoc. On the other side of the ball, they are one of the best defenders in the country when it comes to generating Havoc.

Security Marcus Fuqua is a star; he led the nation in interceptions with seven, earning him third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. Fuqua is a one-man Havoc machine.

Threads are critical to the Bulls defense because it’s not a particularly efficient unit. In particular, he has struggled to defend the pass, ranking in the 90s in the FBS, explosive avoidance and pass success rate.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Clay Helton in Statesboro – a case of “Year 0” when he scrapped decades of triple-option tradition to transition to a modern RPO offense.

There is even an example at a Power Five school of how time consuming and tedious this process can be. Instead, the Eagles’ offense was dynamic all season – it was ranked 38th in SP+ – serving as the only truly good unit in this game. And they won a bowling game in Helton’s first campaign.

The offense is led by Vantrease, the former Buffalo starter. After five seasons with the Bulls, Ginger General transferred to Georgia Southern and had a wonderful season, completing 61.4% of his passes for 3,901 yards along with 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Vantrease is an excellent point guard, distributing the ball to star players like running backs Jalen White and Gerald Green, and his quartet of dynamic receivers in Khaleb Hood, Amare Jones, Derwin Burgess and Jeremy Singleton.

Jones and Burgess were both season-lost in November, but that didn’t stop Georgia Southern from hanging 52 points on archrival Appalachian State in the final to clinch a sixth win and a bowl berth.

In fact, the only two teams to keep Georgia Southern below 20 points were Marshall and Louisiana, two excellent pass defenses that ranked in the top 10 in the PFF coverage rankings as a whole.

Buffalo’s secondary, despite Fuqua’s hawk skills, doesn’t come close to that level, ranking 93rd.

The biggest mismatch in this case will be Georgia Southern’s ability to move the ball down the field with the high percentage passing game. The Eagles are 19th in the FBS in Success Rate when passing the ball, while the Bulls are 95th in Success Rate Allowed against the pass.

Georgia Southern will need to control the ball and find the end zone often because their defense has had a terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad year.

The Eagles are ranked 124th in defensive SP+ and are close to bottom in virtually every division. They will also be without their best quarterback, cornerback Derrick Canteen, who has opted out of the transfer portal.

Matchup analysis between Georgia Southern and Buffalo

Toggle the dropdown menus below to hide or show how Buffalo and Georgia Southern compare statistically:

Georgia Southern Offense vs Buffalo Defense

Buffalo Offense vs Georgia Southern Defense

Pace of the Game / Other
Combat PFF104114
PFF coverage9353
SP+ Special Teams3982
Seconds per Play26.0 (52)22.0 (9)
peak rate53.9% (66)38.3% (129)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Georgia Southern vs Buffalo Predictions, Picks

Both teams entered November with a 5–3 record, then lost three straight and needed a narrow Finals victory to secure a postseason berth.

But Georgia Southern’s slippage was schedule-related: it fell to three bowl teams (Marshall, South Alabama, Louisiana), which were coincidentally the three toughest pass defenses on the schedule. Then the Eagles won a dramatic game over archrival and preseason conference favorite App State.

Buffalo was uninspiring in November; two of their losses came against non-bowl teams in Kent State and Central Michigan. In addition, he suffered a loss to Ohio. He also barely made it through the 2-10 Akron rebuild.

Buffalo’s greatest strength is Havoc’s creation on defense, where it ranks 10th in the nation. Unfortunately for the Bulls, this is negated by Georgia Southern’s offense, which ranks second overall in preventing Havoc.

While Vantrease may throw an interception or two, the team does a great job protecting the ball, avoiding sacks and staying ahead of the sticks.

Georgia Southern’s advantage is their efficient passing game. Buffalo hasn’t shown much skill in preventing teams from moving the ball through the air.

I’ll take Vantrease against his old team and put up the points with Georgia Southern, which has an energized fan base close to home. I’ll take the Eagles at -4.5 and play at -6.

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