What: Georgia Southern Eagles (5-2, 4-0) vs Georgia State Panthers (1-6, 0-4)
Where: The Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
When: 2:00pm EST
How to Watch: ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app
Live Stats: Available on Georgia State's website.
Betting line: Georgia Southern by 17.5 - 18.
Look, I could talk to you about why this game is big for both fanbases, but let's face it: if you're reading this, then you already know. You've probably already read Haisten Willis' piece on the matter. You've probably read the Q&A between myself and Karl Strength here on UnderdogDynasty. So I won't belabor you with those details.
Let's just talk about the game. On paper there is absolutely no reason to believe that Georgia State has a chance in this game. Georgia State "boasts" one of the worst scoring defenses in the country. They have one of the worst defenses against the run in the country. Georgia Southern boasts a top 15 scoring offense and the nation's leading rushing attack. Georgia State has a pretty good passing game, but Georgia Southern is not allowing very many passing touchdowns this season (especially in the red zone).
With all of that, Georgia State has still played a number of teams very close this season. They've had leads at the half in the majority of their games. The offense scores enough points to keep them in the game, but in the end they just haven't been able to get over the hump since that opening game against Abilene Christian. What is on paper doesn't always give the whole story.
Georgia State has a very good quarterback. They have very good wide receivers. However, those won't likely be enough to give them the push over the edge in this game. If anything, it's going to take the motivation to dig down deep and pull something amazing out and feed off their home crowd to win this game.
There's just one little problem with that. They're not going to have a "home" crowd. It is highly likely that the best they can hope for is a crowd that is 50/50. Georgia Southern fans are going to show up in force for this game just as they did for the game against Georgia Tech earlier this season. The fans and the team are going to show up ready to show just which team is for real. I'm not going to even go into the whole "Who does the 'U' belong to?" thing. Georgia Southern's fans and team just want to show why they were offered a spot in the Sun Belt without having a tie to any "major media market" like Georgia State did.
I think Georgia State will fight hard. They will be motivated to make their own statement. They may play with a chip on their shoulders because of the difference in fan support. They will play hard, but they will still lose. In the end, I believe Kevin Ellison, Matt "Big Play" Breida, LA Ramsby, and the Hawgs up front on Georgia Southern's offensive line will be too much for Georgia State's run defense. The Eagles' defense will make enough early stops to take the wind from Georgia State's sails, and this game is over by early in the 2nd half.
My prediction? Georgia Southern 56 - Georgia State 17.