By now, you are stocking up on your GSU gear, scrambling to make travel arrangements, secure your tickets and head to Orlando for Georgia State’s first ever bowl game as they face the San Jose State Spartans in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl Saturday.
To help you prepare we continue our focus to get the #PantherFamily primed and ready in Part 2 of our Cure Bowl Preview as we focus on the Panther offense versus the Spartan defense.
As of Dec. 15 the Spartans, are a 3 point favorite over the Panthers. The Spartans are 5-1 with the spread and finished the 2015 season with a 5-7 record with wins over New Hampshire, Fresno State, UNLV, New Mexico and Hawaii.
Because there were not enough teams who met the eligible win total for a bowl game, the Spartans were the beneficiary of a bid to the Cure Bowl due to an excellent academic record. Don’t let their win/loss record fool you, this could be one of the best defenses Nick Arbuckle and his Panther air raid has faced all season.
Nationally, San Jose State ranks 45th in the FBS allowing an average of 5.66 yards per play and 369.2 yards per game. Georgia State is averaging nearly 1 yard more per play and 80.47 more yards per game.
In 2015, the Spartans defense has only faced two teams ranked higher than the Panthers in Total Offense – Boise State (18) and Air Force (32). The Spartans lost both games by an average of 19 points. The Spartans, however, has not seen a passing offense anywhere close to what they will see with Arbuckle and his receiving corps which is ranked eighth in passing offense. Georgia State is ranked 24th in pass efficiency and the only Spartan opponent with a higher ranking is Air Force, but that ranking is a bit deceiving. The Falcons only attempted 155 passes all season and only completed 3 of 11 versus the Spartans with an average of 2.2 yards.
San Jose State has not had a stellar season against the run. Nationally, they are tied with Purdue at 107th in the nation in defending the run allowing 5.2 yards per attempt and allowing about 216 yards per game. While not something the Panthers are known for, a continued upward trend and improvement in the Panthers run game could present a potential advantage Saturday in the Cure Bowl. For the entire season, the Panthers averaged 3.20 yards per attempt and 103 yards per game. However, since the Arkansas State game, the Panthers average yards per game increased to about 120.
To return to Atlanta with their first win in a bowl game, the Panthers must have the most balanced offense they have fielded to date. Overall they must exceed 200 yards in this game through the air and muster as close to 200 yards on the ground. 400 yards is the key number for the Panther offense.
Some Spartan defensive players to keep an eye on are:
– Christian Tago who leads the Spartans defense with 117 tackles (63 solo, 54 assists) and 9 tackles for a loss.
– Maurice McKnight has 95 tackles (71 solo, 24 assists), 4 tackles for a loss, 1 interception for 54 yards and 2 forced fumbles.
– Safety Jimmy Pruitt and Cornerback Cleveland Wallace will be two guys Arbuckle will want to make sure he knows where they are lined up. Each have 3 interception on the season with a combined total of 128 yards.
– DE Isaiah Irving and DT Tony Popovich have each logged 5 tackles for a loss.
– DE Eugene Taylor has accounted for 3 tackles for a loss for 50 yards.