South Alabama-Georgia State
Start Time: 2:00 PM EST, Saturday, November 21
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Records: South Alabama: 8-2. Georgia State: 3-6. South Alabama leads the overall series 3-1.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Georgia State -3. Over/Under 61.5.
South Alabama Outlook: The Jaguars look to be in solid shape for a bowl berth after beating the Ragin' Cajuns last week.
While finding other receivers more often in the most recent win, the inability of quarterback Cody Clements to connect with anyone that was not a former UAB teammate is still an issue. Former UAB players Gerald Everett, Josh Magee, and D.J. Vinson are still the top three on the team in total catches. Only Marvin Shinn has been targets more often than Everett, Magee, or Vinson. The trio also account for 11 of the teams 14 touchdown catches on the season. Everett in particular has been phenomenal with a team-leading 35 catches for 498 yards and eight touchdowns.
Outside of the UAB trio, Marvin Shinn, Danny Woodson, and Braedon Bowman have stepped up in the passing game and should give Clements more options versus a Georgia State secondary that can be burned.
With a success rate in the mid 90s and a IsoPPP in the top 50, it is all or nothing for the Jaguars running game. Sophomore Xavier Johnson has been up and down this season, but has rushed for 769 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. Backups Tyreis Thomas and Terrance Timmons have been solid, but not as explosive as Johnson. Neither come close to his 7.2 yards per carry average. The Jaguars rush for 164.8 yards per game as a team.
The South Alabama defense finally looked adequate versus the run in defeating Louisiana last week. Otherwise, they have been very porous in giving up 198.8 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry.
The Jaguars are a little better versus the pass with the #45 ranked defensive success rate in the nation. The only problem remains is the tendency to give up explosive passing plays when they know the pass is coming. Expect Georgia State to go for the homerun on several occasions.
Players to watch on the South Alabama defense include: Blake Dees, Jeremy Reaves, and DeMarion Harper.
Georgia State Outlook: The Panthers have been slowly morphing into a team that could pull an upset down the stretch versus a good team.
Forever their Achilles heel, the Panthers have improved on defense in recent weeks. A 4.6 yards per carry allowed is not good, but the number has dropped from higher than 5.0 earlier in the season. Even the pass defense that is giving up over 250 yards per game has seen their defensive production increase along with better overall play by the entire team. Even so, the Panthers are still below average overall on defense and should give up quite a few points.
Players to watch on the Georgia State defense include: Alonzo McGee, Joseph Peterson, and Tarris Batiste.
On offense, passing the ball is virtually the only option with a non-existent running game. The Panthers do not even break 100 yards per game on the ground, in addition to a paltry 3.2 yards per carry average. Demarcus Kirk and Kyler Neal are the top options, but neither have broken the 350 yard mark on the season.
Passing is another story entirely as Nick Arbuckle has been able to dominate most of the Sun Belt's passing categories. He has thrown for 3,135 yards and 20 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 63.8%. The Panthers throw for 348.3 yards per game as a team.
Catching the majority of those passes is the duo of Penny Hart and Robert Davis. The duo have stepped up with 98 catches for 1,643 yards and nine touchdowns. Hart has been especially impressive in doing this as a true freshman. Arbuckle has been able to spread the ball around a bit more to Donovan Harden, Todd Boyd, and tight end Keith Rucker, to give the Panthers five solid receivers.
Prediction: This game could literally go in any direction. I would not be surprised to see either team pull out the win. South Alabama needs this win badly. South Alabama 31, Georgia State 28.