Records: Texas State 2-4 (1-1 Sun Belt Conference), Georgia State 2-4 (1-1 Sun Belt Conference)
Date & Time: Saturday, Oct. 23 2:00 PM ET
Location: Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Spread: GSU -10.5; O/U 60.5
Despite the identical records, Georgia State and Texas State are in distinctly different positions.
Georgia State is an above average Sun Belt team plagued by shooting itself in the foot, the hardest schedule in the conference, and depending on who you ask, poor SEC officiating. Barring the referee-impacted loss to Auburn, the Panthers have lost to only Army, North Carolina and App State: three programs a distinct tier above the majority of the Sun Belt.
Texas State is a worse-than-its-record team luckily placed in the Sun Belt’s atrocious West Division. They lost to an FCS school by two scores and head coach Jake Spavital enters the back half of the season just as he started: on the hot seat.
Who is Texas State?
It is first important to note that Texas State and Jake Spavital have taken an interesting approach to team building. Instead of looking to sign some of the lesser rated recruits from the football factory that is the state of Texas, the Bobcats relied on returning vets and the transfer portal this offseason. After signing day this past February, Texas State was the sole FBS school to not sign a c/o 2021 player but took in no less than 12 transfers.
Texas State is the definition of middle comparative to the Sun Belt. They rank fifth in points scored per game and sixth in points allowed. Both the Bobcats’ rushing offense and rushing defense are sixth-best in the conference, and their passing offense and defense are seventh and fourth respectively.
So, why be so down on a team that appears to, at the very least, be league median?
In short, there is little to like about Texas State.
QB Brady McBride has thrown nine picks despite playing just six games. The offensive line has done McBride no favors. His yards lost to sacks total falls just one short of matching his number of passes completed.
That group, which includes three first-time Bobcats, has found success making holes for running backs Calvin Hill and Brock Sturges. Hill, a redshirt freshman, leads the team in carries (69) and yards (220) and has recorded a massively impressive 4.9 yards per carry. Hill is yet to score this season, nor has he (or any Bobcat) broken for a run greater than 30 yards. Sturges and Jahmyl Jeter see the red zone carries for Texas State. ach have four touchdowns on the ground.
McBride has his favorite targets when it comes to the passing game; Marcell Barbee leads the team in receptions (27) with Javen Banks (21) right on his heels. Third is Banks, who has nearly half as many catches at 11; no other player at Texas State breaks the double digits but 11 others have at least three receptions.
Texas State’s secondary is statistically fine, but that may be largely in part to teams getting leads against it and wanting to run the ball more. The Bobcats have broken up just 19 passes thus far and have picked off a mere two balls.
No defensive player has been a particular menace in the opposing backfield. Issiah Nixon leads the team with three sacks and is one of just two players with at least one full sack.
How does GSU win?
This should be a win for the Panthers, but if there’s one takeaway from the season thus far, it’s that nothing is a guarantee for GSU.
The Panthers will need to pick on the mediocre Texas State rushing defense. Whatever combination of Tucker Gregg, Destin Coates and Jamyest Williams HC Shawn Elliott decides to use Saturday will have the opportunity to pad the stat sheet with high per carry numbers so long as the offensive line stalwarts like it has all season.
QB Darren Grainger will have an opportunity to air it out for chunk plays, a habit he has built during his short tenure as the starter. He need not be insanely precise with his throws, but only Baylor has beaten Texas State while throwing for under 180 yards this season.
Trench play has been the least of the Panthers’ worries this season so they will have little to no problem keeping the Texas State offense in check.
The biggest key is to not get caught flat-footed. GSU is coming off of a bye and is still tasting a 24-point win over ULM two weeks ago. Texas State, meanwhile, is searching for a momentum-shifting win after losing by three to Troy. GSU, if it plays its game, will win without much issue, but that is a big if.
Prediction: GSU 35-27 TXST