Start time: 2:00 p.m. ET, Nov. 13
Location: Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC
Records: GSU 4-5 (3-2 SBC), CCU 8-1 (4-1 SBC)
Spread: CCU -10.5; O/U 52.5
The Sun Belt East Division standings indicate this is a crucial matchup for either side. The Chanticleers and Panthers are separated by just one game in the table, and it appears at first glance GSU visiting Coastal Carolina is must-see football. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Coastal Carolina is 8-1, has won by at least 20 in all but two of their victories and has hovered around the bottom of the AP Top 25 all season. Georgia State, on the other hand, is a middle of the road Sun Belt team on the brink of Bowl ineligibility.
Who is Coastal Carolina?
The Chants were the feel-good story of 2020 after an undefeated regular season that included a 22-17 victory over then-13th ranked BYU. This season they’ve continued that dominance with a Sun Belt leading 42.6 points per game and second-best 17.3 allowed. Coastal Carolina is effective both on the ground and through the air (first and second in the Sun Belt for rushing and passing yards) and lock down opponents equally as well (first in the Sun Belt for rushing and passing yards allowed).
The offense is typically led by QB Grayson McCall. McCall was an All-Sun Belt First Teamer last season as a redshirt freshman and was recently tabbed as a finalist for a handful of NCAA quarterback awards. McCall suffered an arm injury that may sideline him the rest of the season, however, and has been replaced by senior Bryce Carpenter.
Carpenter started the back half of the 2019 season but lost the job to McCall in 2020. He served as a Taysom Hill-esque utility player last season capped by appearances on the hands team. In his first start in McCall’s absence, Carpenter completed 13 of 20 passes for 85 yards.
The offense is at no lack of depth, as RBs Shemari Jones and Reese White and WRs Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely have all surpassed 500 rushing/receiving yards with at least five others recording at least 100 all-purpose yards this season.
Defensive tackle Josiah Stewart leads the Sun Belt with nine sacks, one short of the school record. Stewart has also forced three fumbles which matches the meek team-wide interception total.
How does GSU win?
Georgia State has given its two previous ranked opponents, Auburn and Louisiana, a good game despite losing both matchups. Is Coastal on a different tier than the other schools? Probably, but football is a fickle sport.
In order to win the Panthers will need to exploit Carpenter. McCall is among the best QBs in the county while Carpenter is a backup at a non-power conference school. Apply pressure, force the Chants to run at the formidable GSU defensive front, and let the opponent settle for three.
The offense will need to be sharp in order to stick around with Coastal— whether that happens in a weekly crap shoot— but it all starts with a strong defensive showing.
GSU will give a good half or two, but as mentioned above CCU is just a better team than Louisiana and will perform better than Auburn did against the Panthers. Expect a big score differential but not to the extremes the Chanticleers have been showing this season.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 36-19 Georgia State