Three wins and Georgia State will be bowl eligible

 BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Georgia State kept alive its chances of becoming bowl eligible with a comprehensive 41-19 victory at Texas State on Saturday.

The Panthers set program highs for passing yards (471) and total yards (643), while scoring the most points it ever has under coach Trent Miles and tying the mark for the lowest points allowed under Miles.

Georgia State has three games remaining and must win all three to have a chance at playing in lovely Montgomery, Ala., Austin, Texas, New Orleans or Orlando.

So, how does Georgia State match up with its remaining opponents?

Vs. South Alabama

Record: 5-4, 3-2

Good wins: defeated San Diego State 34-27 and is on a two-game win streak with a 52-45 victory over Idaho and a 32-25 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Bad losses: Being beaten 36-18 by Texas State isn’t good.

Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: The Jaguars aren’t very good at stopping the run in allowing almost 200 yards per game, which is good for a Georgia State offense that has had trouble consistently trying to establish its running game.

The Jaguars also aren’t good at getting to the quarterback with just nine sacks this season.

The Jaguars aren’t particularly effective on third down, converting just 34.3 percent, which is good for a Georgia State defense that is finding its footing.

Lastly, South Alabama is dead last in the conference in red zone defense with 36 scores allowed in 37 situations.

Stats that work against Georgia State: The Jaguars are allowing just a shade more than 200 passing yards per game and have nine interceptions, slightly worrisome against for Georgia State’s pass-first, pass-second and pass-third offense.

Summary: If Georgia State can jump on South Alabama as quickly as they jumped on Texas State, this could be the Panthers’ fourth win of the season. The Panthers haven’t done will in close games.

Vs. Troy

Record: 3-7, 2-4

Good wins: The Trojans hammered New Mexico State 52-7 and Louisiana-Monroe 51-14.

Bad losses: An odd team with a 19-16 loss at Idaho and a 44-41 loss to Appalachian State in three overtimes.

Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: Troy’s pass defense is good because it is very good at getting to the quarterback with a Sun Belt-best 22 sacks. This may work in Georgia State’s favor because its offensive line is playing much better. If Nick Arbuckle can get an extra second, it could lead to big plays.

Stats that work against Georgia State: At the midpoint of the season, the Trojans were averaging a Sun Belt-worst 19.8 points and 305.7 yards per game. They are now averaging 29.2 points and 362.1 yards per game, which is a massive improvement in just three games. As well as Georgia State’s defense has played in three of its past four games, it seems too soon to say that it has figured things out.

Like South Alabama, Troy is very good against the pass, allowing slightly less than 200 yards per game.

Plus, there are likely to be very few people at this game but it will likely be at noon or 1 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving.

Summary: Between South Alabama and Troy, this game could be tougher because it seems like it will possibly turn into a shootout. The Panthers haven’t done well late in those types of games.

At Georgia Southern

Record: 7-2, 5-1

Good wins: With one exception, the Eagles had no problem defeating their Sun Belt opponents. Its smallest margin of victory has been 20 points in wins at Idaho, at Louisiana-Monroe, vs. New Mexico State, vs. Texas State and at Troy.

Bad losses: In what was pegged to be the game of the year in the conference, the Eagles were hammered by Appalachian State 31-13 in Boone.

Stats that work in Georgia State’s favor: It’s not really a stat so much as it is the schedule: the Eagles will face Georgia and South Alabama before the season finale and could be physically and mentally exhausted. Having said that, much will depend upon what happens to Arkansas State and Appalachian State between now and then. They are ahead of the Eagles in the Sun Belt standings. A few unlikely upsets and there’s a chance that Georgia Southern may need to defeat the Panthers if it wants to defend its conference title. Realistically, Arkansas State isn’t going to lose to New Mexico State or Texas State, and Appalachian State is unlikely to be beaten by Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama. So, other than the rivalry (which is important…not trying to undersell it), Georgia Southern may not have much to play for in the regular-season finale.

Stats that work against Georgia State: The Eagles are second in the Sun Belt in interceptions (13) and fifth in pass defense (210.8).

It leads the conference in rushing (385.6 yards per game) while Georgia State is allowing 200 yards per game.

Though Georgia State is playing better against option offenses, the last time it played an opponent that focuses so much on the option it was shellacked by Appalachian State.

Summary: This one will be very interesting if the Panthers need to win to become bowl eligible. Both teams may be playing with nothing to lose.


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