Kyle Vantrease was the starting quarterback at Buffalo last season. This year, Vantrease starts at Georgia Southern against his former team in the Camellia Bowl on Tuesday in Montgomery, Ala.

Georgia Southern (6-6) will be participating in a bowl game for the fifth time; the Eagles are 3-1 and won the 2018 Camellia Bowl. Buffalo (6-6) is in its sixth bowl game; the Bulls are 2-3 and won the 2020 Camellia Bowl.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

Georgia Southern, in its first season under coach Clay Helton, became bowl-eligible by beating Appalachian State 51-48 in double overtime in the final game of the season. Buffalo became eligible for postseason by with a last-minute 23-22 win over Akron in their season finale.

“I feel like you have two teams who really had to fight their way in,” Helton said. “When you look at college football, only half the teams get the opportunity to play one more game together and we are honored to be able to do that.”

Vantrease was a big reason for Georgia Southern’s success. He passed for 3,901 yards and 25 touchdowns and was named third-team All-Sun Belt Conference. Vantrease engineered the team’s dramatic 45-42 win over Nebraska on Sept. 10.

He threw for 1,861 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games for Buffalo in 2021 and was the quarterback when Buffalo won the Camellia Bowl.

Buffalo linebacker James Patterson laughed and said, “I can’t really wait to get after him and just show him that after all these years of him being in a red (non-contact) jersey, he’s going to be in a different-colored jersey.”

Georgia Southern had 11 other payers named all-conference, including tackle Khalil Crowder, wide receiver Khaleb Hood (80 receptions, 896 yards, three TDs) and linebacker Marques Watson-Trent (105 tackles), who each made the second team.

Buffalo had seven players named to the All-MAC team, including kicker Alex McNulty, linebacker Shaun Dolac (134 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and safety Marcus Fuqua (60 tackles, seven interceptions), a third-team AP All-America selection. McNulty, a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, was voted the conference’s special teams player of the year and set a single-season record with 21 field goals.

–Field Level Media