With Saturday’s 31-19 victory over Ball State, Georgia State has two wins this season, matching the total it reached in its previous three seasons.
While they didn’t play four solid quarters in beating the Cardinals, it was arguably the best all-around performance the Panthers have put together under coach Trent Miles in his 30 games in charge. The offense had almost 450 yards (412 passing) and the defense surrendered just 19 points, the fewest under Miles.
Georgia State is off this week and will play at Arkansas State on Oct. 31. It is the first in a stretch of six Sun Belt games, ending at Georgia Southern on Dec. 5.
Can the Panthers win four of those six games and become bowl eligible? It seems like a reach, but let’s take a look at each game.
Oct. 31 at Arkansas State
Record: 3-3, 2-0
Good wins: They hammered Missouri State 70-7, and knocked off South Alabama 49-31.
Bad losses: The Red Wolves don’t have any bad losses. They were beaten at USC 55-6, by Missouri 27-20 and by a very good Toledo squad 37-7.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Panthers’ passing attack, tops in the Sun Belt with 326.8 yards per game, should do well against an Arkansas State defense giving up 229.5 passing yards per game.
Stats that work against Georgia State: The Red Wolves are averaging 33.5 points per game behind a rushing attack that averages 198.3 yards per game. That’s almost the same average of rushing yards Georgia State is allowing (193.3). James Tabary (157.6 passing yards per game) is the type of quarterback who has given the Panthers troubles, but Fredi Knighten is back and provides even more of a threat.
Summary: This will be a tough one for the Panthers. However, Georgia State does play much better on the road than at home, so it’s a plus that this game will be in Jonesboro and not at the Georgia Dome.
Record: 2-3, 1-0
Good wins: They defeated Northwestern State 44-17 and Texas State 49-27.
Bad losses: They also don’t have any bad losses, falling at Kentucky 40-33, to a decent Akron 35-14 and at a good Louisiana Tech 43-14.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Cajuns have just two interceptions and 10 sacks, so Nick Arbuckle should get time to throw. If Georgia State could establish a running game the Cajuns are allowing 188.6 rushing yards per game.
Stats that work against Georgia State: The Cajuns are averaging 231.2 rushing yards per game and just 219.6 passing yards per game.
Elijah McGuire is second in the Sun Belt with 117 rushing yards per game.
Summary: The Cajuns’ balance doesn’t bode well for Georgia State, whose cornerbacks have struggled stopping big plays until Saturday’s win against Ball State. The longest play in that game was just 19 yards.
At Texas State
Record: 1-4, 0-1
Good wins: There’s just the one over Prairie View A&M, 63-24.
Bad losses: There’s no shame in losing at Florida State, to an improved Southern Miss squad, at Houston or at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Bobcats are allowing a Sun Belt-worst 49.4 points and 573.2 yards per game, but those averages were hurt by the totals in the non-conference games.
Stats that work against Georgia State: Despite their defensive deficiencies, the Bobcats are averaging 458.4 yards per game, with almost half coming on the ground (200.2). Their passing attack is second in the Sun Belt. Tyler Jones is second in the Sun Belt with 300.2 yards per game.
Summary: If Georgia State were to win, it will likely come down to which team commits the fewest turnovers because it’s going to be a shootout. Both teams have identical minus-4 margins. If the defense can play like it did against Ball State, the Panthers should get the win.
Vs. South Alabama
Record: 3-3, 1-1
Good wins: defeating San Diego State 34-27 in overtime is pretty solid.
Bad losses: Again, not too many bad losses: Nebraska, N.C. State and Arkansas State.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Jaguars are averaging just 24 points and 362.7 yards per game. They are also struggling on defense with averages of 38 points and 395.2 yards per game.
Stats that work against Georgia State: The Jaguars are averaging 243 passing yards per game with an average of 7.5 yards per reception.
Summary: This is one of the games that I thought Georgia State could win before the season started. If the offense continues to click, the Panthers should emerge with a victory.
Record: 1-5, 0-2
Good wins: Just one, 44-16 over Charleston Southern.
Bad losses: Losses at N.C. State, at Wisconsin and at Mississippi State (who does the scheduling for Troy?!?) aren’t bad. A loss at home to Idaho, 19-16, however, is bad.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Trojans are averaging a Sun Belt-worst 19.8 points and 305.7 yards per game on offense.
Stats that work against Georgia State: Despite its struggles on offense, the defense isn’t playing too poorly, all things considered. It’s allowing 30.2 points per game despite losing the turnover margin with a Sun Belt-worst minus-9.
Summary: Troy is struggling to execute its new up-tempo offense under its new coach. If Georgia State can limit big plays, this could be win No. 5.
At Georgia Southern
Record: 5-1, 3-0
Good wins: The Eagles have defeated Western Michigan, The Citadel, Idaho, Louisiana-Monroe and Nex Mexico State. Those teams are a combined 10-20 this season. Should the Eagles defeat Appalachian State on Saturday, that win would vault to the top of this category.
Bad losses: The only loss came at West Virginia. The offense was hampered by starting its backup quarterback in that 44-0 loss.
Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Eagles are allowing 232.8 passing yards per game, so the Panthers should be able to throw the ball, as long as they don’t fall behind quickly and are forced to throw the ball.
Stats that work against Georgia State: The Eagles are atop the Sun Belt with averages of 40.3 points. They are second in yards (465.2), and scoring defense (25.2).
Summary: This one will be very though. The Eagles did whatever they wanted on offense last year at the Dome in rushing for more than 600 yards.
What do you think?
Do you think five wins is probable? If so, what do you think that means for the future of Trent Miles and his staff. Share your thoughts in the comments section.