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Nathan Deen is a sports writer for Savannah Morning News covering Georgia Southern athletics. His blog, Eagle Extra, will include news and analysis on Georgia Southern athletics.

 
Posted August 24, 2017 06:20 pm - Updated August 25, 2017 02:22 pm

What Georgia Southern is making to play Auburn and other Power 5 teams

Georgia Southern isn’t taking the easy road in its quest to be one of the best Group of 5 programs, and the Eagles are looking for every chance they can get to knock off a Power 5 juggernaut.

Georgia Southern will open its 2017 season at Auburn, and the Eagles will play a major SEC or ACC team every year from 2017 to 2021.

GS will be visiting both stadiums that are dubbed “Death Valley,” with a visit to defending national champion Clemson next season before heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face LSU in 2019.

The Eagles will make a return trip to Oxford, Mississippi, in 2020 with a rematch against Ole Miss, after Georgia Southern jumped out to a 21-3 lead on the Rebels on the road last season before falling 37-27.

In 2021, the Eagles will play at Arkansas.

Georgia Southern is no stranger to the SEC. Before joining the FBS, the Eagles upset Florida 26-20 in 2013 and then with full FBS status went to overtime against Georgia in 2015.

The move to the FBS has all but demanded Georgia Southern play up against schools with operating budgets upward of $100 million. With Georgia Southern's operating budget hovering just over $29 million in expenses, according to a 2015-2016 USA Today finance report, these games will provide significant paydays. The tradeoff is one less home game. The Eagles played just five home games last season, and that won’t change this year.

So the question becomes: Is it worth it?

Georgia Southern made an average of $320,000 in ticket sales per home game for the 2015-2016 season.

According to copies of the contracts between Georgia Southern and their opponents obtained by the Savannah Morning News via an open records request, the Eagles will rake in an average of 1.225 million in guaranteed money against SEC and ACC opponents over the next five years.

Auburn is paying GS $1.3 million; Clemson is paying $1.1 million; LSU $925,000; and Ole Miss and Arkansas are each ponying up $1.4 million.

That means the Eagles would lose more than $700,000 if they chose to play an extra home game instead of playing on the road at a powerhouse program.