The Georgia State Panthers (5-6, 4-3) will travel within the state as they face the Georgia Southern Eagles (8-3, 6-1) in Sun Belt Conference action Saturday afternoon. Georgia Southern rolled to a 69-31 win on the road as a 17 point favorite in the only meeting between the schools on October 25, 2014.
Georgia State is coming off their third straight win as they dumped Troy 31-21 last week; they need a win here to become bowl eligible. Georgia Southern has already accepted a bid to the GoDaddy Bowl; the Eagles have won four in a row after trouncing South Alabama 55-17 last week. Kickoff from Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia is set for 2:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Georgia Southern is currently favored by 21 points with the over/under set at 59 points in this contest.
Georgia State has found their way but it might be too little, too late as far as a bowl bid goes. The Panthers outgained the Trojans 519-374, finished with 23 first downs to Troy’s 20 and held the ball for a staggering 38:06 while Troy had the ball for 21:54 in the contest. Both teams committed a pair of turnovers in the contest; after Troy tied the game at 7 early in the second quarter, the Panthers reeled off 24 straight points to take command of the game. Troy scored twice to make the score more respectable but the game was never really in doubt.
The Panthers are a solid offensive team through the air, ranking 8th in the nation in passing offense (346.6 yards per game) but they have struggled on the ground as they put up 99.5 yards per contest, leaving them 126th in the nation in that category. Georgia State averages 27.3 points but they struggle defensively as they allow 30.4 points per game; that puts them 89th in the nation in scoring defense. Nick Arbuckle has completed 273 of 425 passes for 3,814 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year. The run game averages a measly 3.1 yards per carry; Kyler Neal is the team’s second leading rusher with 74 carries for 286 yards and three scores while Demarcus Kirk is currently leading the team with 75 carries for 320 yards plus two scores. Six receivers have double digit receptions for the Panthers: Penny Hart leads the team with 64 catches for 966 yards and seven scores; Robert Davis (57 grabs, 932 yards, 5 TD), Keith Rucker (36 grabs, 474 yards, 5 TD), Donovan Harden (32 grabs, 602 yards, 4 TD) and Todd Boyd (22 catches, 240 yards, TD) are other targets for Arbuckle. Wil Lutz has banged through 36 of 37 extra points and 12 of 19 field goals on the year, including a pair of 50 yard kicks.
Georgia Southern pulled away for an easy win over South Alabama: after the score was tied at 7 after one quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Jaguars 48-10 the rest of the way. The Bulldogs outgained the Jaguars by a hefty 542-136 margin, finished with 20 first downs to South Alabama’s nine and held the ball for 32:58 to South Alabama’s 27:02 in the game. Both teams committed a pair of turnovers: South Alabama scored on a fumble return while Georgia Southern had scoring drives start at the Jaguars’ 4 and 8 yard lines.
The Eagles are a full bore run-oriented offense as they are last in the FBS when it comes to throwing the ball (61.3 yards) and they lead the nation on the ground with 375.6 yards per contest. Georgia Southern is currently tied for 13th in the nation in scoring offense as they average 37 points while ranking 35th in scoring defense as they give up 22.3 points per contest. Georgia Southern has run the ball 616 times while throwing it just 110 times: Kevin Ellison (33 of 71, 479 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT, 637 rushing yards, 8 TD) is the starter at quarterback with Favian Upshaw (16 of 39, 195 yards, 5 INT, 364 rushing yards, 2 TD) is the backup. The Eagles average a staggering 6.7 yards per rush and have scored 46 touchdowns on the ground; Matt Breida leads FBS running backs with a 8.3 yard per carry average as he has 180 carries for 1,495 yards and 16 scores. Wesley Fields (88 carries, 604 yards, 6 TD) and LA Ramsby (138 carries, 707 yards, 11 TD) are doing their part when they get the rock as well. Bj Johnson is tied for the team lead on the Eagles with 11 receptions for 186 yards while Ryan Longoria is tied with Johnson with 11 catches for 113 yards. Alex Hanks has kicked 31 of 32 extra points and eight of 10 field goal attempts this season. Younghoe Koo is 19 of 19 on extra points and has hit seven of eight field goal attempts with a long of 48 yards.
Georgia Southern is 5-0 ATS in their last five after totaling at least 450 yards of offense, 4-0 ATS in their last four after allowing less than 20 points, 6-1 ATS in their last seven after an ATS win, 15-3 ATS in their last 18 on grass, 10-2 ATS in their last 12 after a straight up win of at least 20 points and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 at home.
Georgia State has played well of late but Georgia Southern has been pretty good all season long. This will be a clash between the Panthers’ passing game against the Eagles’ ground game. No one has really slowed the triple option assault by Georgia Southern this year and it’s hard to project Georgia State pulling that off here either. The Panthers’ feel good run comes to an abrupt end here as Georgia Southern cruises to a victory.