In 2014, Georgia Southern became just the third school in history to win a conference championship in its first season as a Football Bowl Subdivision team after making the move up from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Eagles went 8-0 in the Sun Belt Conference that year.
Nevada (1992) and Marshall (1997) were the only other two schools that accomplished the feat.
The University of Maine will travel to Georgia Southern for a game on Sept. 7, 2019. It will be the Eagles’ home opener after visiting Louisiana State University the previous weekend.
It will be the fourth meeting between the two schools, as they met three times in the FCS playoffs with Georgia Southern winning all three: 31-28 in overtime in the round of 16 in 1987, 31-7 in the quarterfinals in 2002 and 35-23 in the Final Eight in 2011.
According to UMaine sports information specialist Tyson McHatten, UMaine will receive a $325,000 guarantee for the game in Statesboro, Georgia.
“They have a rich tradition and they’ve made the step up [to the FBS]. They will be a great opponent,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak. “Games against FBS teams give us a good gauge of where we’re at. They help us prepare for our [Colonial Athletic Association] schedule.
“It also gives some of our guys a chance to see a part of the country they’ve never seen before,” added Harasymiak, whose Black Bears went 6-5 under the first-year coach last fall.
UMaine went 5-3 in the CAA including a 31-20 loss to a James Madison University team that wound up winning the national championship.
UMaine played two FBS schools last season, losing to UConn 24-21 and to Toledo 45-3.
Toledo wound up going to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, where they lost to Appalachian State 31-28.
Georgia Southern went 5-7 last fall, 4-4 in the conference, under first-year coach Tyson Summers. The Eagles had gone 18-7 in its first two FBS seasons, 14-2 in the conference.
UMaine will play two FBS teams this coming season as the Black Bears will visit Orlando, Florida, for a game with the University of Central Florida on Sept. 30 and they will also venture to Fenway Park in Boston on Nov. 11 for a contest with UMass.
UMaine is one of the few FCS schools that schedules two games every season with FBS schools. Most schedule just one.
Harasymiak said they are talking to several FBS schools about the 2018 season and about adding another game in 2019 to complement the trip to Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern will entertain the University of New Hampshire this fall.