Eagles receive first-round bye in FCS playoffs

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Georgia Southern’s football team would like to continue a run that actually started a year ago.

The Eagles advanced to the Final Four of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs before losing to Delaware last season.

Today, they learned the path to take the 2011 run even further.

The pairings for the 20-team FCS playoff were announced by the NCAA and, as expected, Georgia Southern received one of the 12 first-round byes. The Eagles will be in action on Dec. 3 at home against the winner of the Norfolk State-Old Dominion.

No. 19 Norfolk (9-2) won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title. Tenth-ranked Old Dominion (9-2) posted a stellar record in the black-and-blue Colonial Athletic Association.

“We’re glad to get a week off, but we’ll have to prepare for two teams so it’s a little different,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said.

The Eagles (9-2) will be making their 18th appearance in the FCS playoffs. They won their division-best sixth title in 2000.

This season, Georgia Southern won the Southern Conference title. It was ranked No. 1 in the nation for seven weeks before losing to Appalachian State.

But the Eagles defeated The Citadel and Wofford the following two weeks and played Football Bowl Subdivision power Alabama competitively in a 45-21 loss on Saturday to conclude the regular season.

Georgia Southern enters the playoffs as the third seed. A juicy matchup could come as early as the quarterfinals (Dec. 9 or 10) when the Eagles could meet Appalachian State in Paulson Stadium if both teams win their first playoff games. The Mountaineers’ opener is with Maine.

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