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Georgia Southern Eagles vs. Texas State Bobcats: Preview, TV, Streaming, Start Time, Betting Line

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One team looks to get back on track Thursday night, while the other hopes to build on a burst of momentum.

Todd Bennett/Getty Images

Last week was an aberration for both Georgia Southern and Texas State. For the Eagles, five straight wins came crashing down in the mountains of North Carolina. A 31-13 humbling and first-ever Sun Belt loss at the hands of Appalachian State have Eagle Nation eager to get back in the win column.

Texas State wants to show last week was a sign of things to come. The Bobcats came in at 1-4 and made short work of visiting South Alabama. The schedule softens from next week on and TXST can still make a bowl run if they pull the upset.

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. (Eastern), Thursday, Oct. 29

Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Georgia

TV: ESPNU

Streaming: ESPN3.com/WatchESPN App

Radio: Georgia Southern here, Texas State here

Records: GSU (5-2, 3-1 Sun Belt), TXST (2-4, 1-1)

Forecast: 68 degrees, partly cloudy

Betting Line: Georgia Southern -21, Over/Under of 71.5

Texas State Outlook

Less than a week after getting a proverbial monkey off of their backs against South Alabama, the Bobcats continue the World's Strangest Schedule with a short turnaround road trip to a very angry Georgia Southern team that's had two days more rest (thanks a lot, Sun Belt). Gulp.

After the HUNH/screen passes for days experiment of the first five games, it's probably safe to assume that Texas State is going to switch "back" to feeding running back Robert Lowe early and often. He gashed South Alabama for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns in absolutely nasty weather, whereas the Bobcat passing game stalled.

We'll get a chance to see how Jones and the passing game can handle taking a secondary role behind Lowe in better weather and whether the Bobcats can get a coherent play action strategy going along with some vertical medium routes. Hopefully the previously ineffective strategy of 20 sideline screen passes and hoping Texas State's receivers can break a tackle or two will be severely curtailed.

As for the defense, it's improved considerably with Brad Franchione simplifying former DC John Thompson's overly complicated schemes that were designed to cause havoc but put too much individual responsibility on players that hadn't gelled as a unit yet. Texas State was able to stop South Alabama when it mattered, and finally held an FBS opponent to under 500 yards.

That said, South Alabama still had success against this defense on the ground (272 rushing yards, 5.3 YPC). Georgia Southern's rushing attack is far more explosive than USA's however. In fact, their offense is ranked fourth in the country in explosiveness and 2nd in average field position. Texas State's defense, by contrast, is 106th in giving up explosive plays. So it's safe to assume that GSU's going to bust some huge runs, and probably a 60+ yard touchdown or two.

Texas State's offense is 9th in explosiveness, but 91st in field position. In other words, the Bobcats will likely need to bust some big plays from inside their own territory. That's not exactly a great combination for winning at one of the tougher road atmospheres in the Sun Belt. But if Tyler Jones and his receivers can finally get on the same page, perhaps an upset is within reach.

Georgia Southern Outlook

Contrary to what you may have seen on the Internet, the entire universe did not end last Thursday night. The Eagles remain a good team with a shot at double-digit wins.

That said, last week was really, really bad. Southern's defense played pretty well in Boone. What's troubling is an offense that transformed from 400-horsepower muscle car to toddler's tricycle in the blink of an eye. The opening drive was classic Willie Fritz, going for 86 yards and seven points. From there, nada until well into garbage time.

Georgia Southern is still the nation's run king. The question is how far rushing alone will take them. When throwing the ball, Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw combined sport one touchdown against eight interceptions, with a 41 percent completion rate. Ellison's QB rating is 95.8. Upshaw's is 23.7.

Fritz knows he'll need an air attack in tough games, which explains the continued, if futile, efforts toward that end.

Luckily, and with all due respect, Texas State isn't likely to be a tough game. The line opened at -18.5 and quickly shot to a full three touchdowns.

TXST ranks 124th in total defense, surrendering 556 yards per game. Eight more and they'd be dead last. That's not going to win you many football games.

Coach Dennis Franchione retains name recognition thanks to stints at Texas A&M and Alabama. But at 64 he appears on the decline and could follow the lead of Steve Spurrier and George O'Leary by season's end. Also, if you're looking for a reason to despise this team, let us never forget this is who caused the He Who Shall Not Be Named era.

While ESPN's cameras may capture a soft crowd at Paulson Stadium, if Texas State wins they'll be the first road team to do so in 10 tries. Even the handsome and wealthy know playing in Statesboro is tough.

Predictions

Will: The nice part about Dennis Franchione's option pedigree is that he actually knows how to defend the option fairly well even with outmatched personnel. He almost got one over on GSU last year and didn't get blown out by Navy both times he played them. However, this defense is still incredibly vulnerable to Brieda's speed, and the offense is still inconsistent outside of Lowe's herculean performance last week. TXST might keep it closer than expected, but GSU's option attack should eventually be too much. Eagles 42, Bobcats 31

Haisten: Texas State may keep it close for a while but I see Southern winning comfortably. Even with eight or nine in the box the Bobcat defense won't stop the Eagles often enough to stay in the game. If you're into g-g-g-gambling though, I don't think Southern will cover the number and the under looks like a good play. Eagles 35, Bobcats 21