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
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
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