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Western Michigan vs Georgia State: Preview & Prediction

Georgia State closes out non-conference play with a swing-game against a MAC team.

After a tough road trip, can the Panthers bring a win home?
Georgia State Athletics

Kickoff: Saturday, September 22, 2018, 2pm

Location: Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA

TV: ESPN+

RADIO: 92.9 THE GAME (WZGC-FM), WRAS-FM 88.5. Free audio stream on GeorgiaStateSports.com and GSU mobile app.

Line: O/U 61.5, GSU +7.5

The Matchup: The Panthers return home to Atlanta after two tough road games to finish up the final game of their OOC slate before starting conference play in the Sun Belt. They face a Western Michigan team coming off their first win against Delaware State after facing two tough opponents early on in the season. They also look to shore up their record before entering conference play in the MAC. This looks to be a battle of two high powered offenses and I expect a shootout. Both of these teams have the weapons to put up points, so fans should be in for a show on Saturday.

Keys to the game for the Broncos

Get everyone involved on offense

The Broncos have a litany of weapons on offense. From their QB Jon Wassink throwing for 286 yards last week to seven different receivers or four running backs combining for over 200 rushing yards. No matter who’s in the game this offense will run like a well-oiled machine and score. They have multiple weapons on offense and need to use them. An early score could quiet the crowd and diminish GSU’s home-field advantage.

Jon Wassink leads a versatile Broncos’ offense
Western Michigan Athletics

Create Turnovers on Defense

During their Week 1 matchup against Syracuse, the Broncos saw just how costly turnovers can be in a shootout. Two interceptions by Wassink led to a field goal and a touchdown. GSU’s QB Dan Ellington has been very efficient so far this season, only throwing one interception for the season. The Broncos should look to force fumbles from some of the younger players that are on the field for the Panthers. Turnovers will be the deciding factor of who wins or loses this game.

Keys to the game for the Panthers

The kids need to grow up

So far this season a total of 10 freshmen have played in significant time for the Panthers. And not Redshirt Freshmen either, all 10 are true freshmen. When asked about the multitude of young players that were seeing time on the field Coach Elliot was quoted saying “We’re in a situation where these guys have to play, It’s about overhauling your roster, these recruiting classes, and right now they are the best guys we have out there. That’s why they’re playing.” These freshmen are the best men for the job and their play on the field proves it. Destin Coates, a true freshmen from Tallahassee, Florida (Shoutout to the hometown), has taken clear control of the starting running back job and looks to be an effective rusher for the Panthers for years to come.

But it’s not just offense. The Panther defense has been banged up from recent games and really needs their freshmen to step up in order to have a chance on Saturday. The Panthers had o-line issues their first game, but thanks to the coaches it was fixed and the Panthers gave up only one sack during their road trips. I look for these freshmen to step up in their roles and prove why they’re on the field.

Destin Coates leads a group of impactful freshmen for the Panthers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Bend but don’t break on defense

Western Michigan has had it’s share of troubles in the kicking game with their former starter missing two FGs under 30 yards. Forcing the s to settle for field goals is the fastest way to slow them down and has a chance of resulting in no points at the end of the drive. Defense has shown the ability to toughen up in the red zone. They’ll need that toughness to show up again if they want to keep the Broncos at bay.

Prediction

The Panthers return home with a young team that has traded blows with the best of them on the road. Western Michigan will come to Atlanta hungry for another victory after getting a taste of it last week. I think that both offenses perform well and the folks down at Georgia State Stadium are entertained throughout the game. I see Brandon Wright’s kicking becoming a big factor in this game, punting and field goals. I see him kicking the game-winning field goal to avoid overtime as the Panthers bring home a win.

Georgia State 38 Western Michigan 35