What the Eagles need to do to avoid four losses in a row to the Panthers

Head Coach Chad Lunsford leads his Eagles into their final regular season game against Georgia State Saturday. Kickoff from Atlanta set for 2 p.m. 

Ryan Kostensky

Georgia Southern heads north to Atlanta where they square off against rival Georgia State, looking to end their three-game losing streak to the Panthers.

A year after finishing 2-10, the Eagles have an opportunity to get their ninth win on Saturday against rival GSU in the fifth installment of the young series.

After the 69-31 drubbing done by GS in 2014’s contest, where the Eagles amassed over 700 yards on the ground, the team up north has rattled off three straight victories to take a 3-1 series lead, and while unexpected for many True Blue fans, the road to righting the ship starts Saturday at Georgia State Stadium, formerly known as Turner Field.

In 2017 the Panthers went to the Cure Bowl, where they upended Western Kentucky for the first bowl victory in program history, but for Head Coach Shawn Elliott and the rest of the squad, 2018 has been much different. GSU is 2-9 on the season, including a 1-6 conference record, and it’s easy to see why the Panthers have struggled mightily on the season.

GSU has given up a total of 414 points in 2018, allowing 37.6 points per game on average, good for 119th out of 130 FBS teams.

The deficiency of the defense for the Panthers bodes well for GS and their offense. After scoring a combined 46 points through the course of their two-game losing streak, the Eagles broke out into vintage form against Coastal Carolina, dropping 41 points on the Chanticleers.

The GS offense looks to regain mid-season form against State, and should win with relative ease, but it’s hard to forget the 34-7 loss to the Panthers at home in 2015, when the Eagles were amidst their first bowl-eligible season. GSU was a hefty underdog in the game, but took down GS with relative ease.

If the Eagles want to be successful and avoid a letdown in their final game of the regular season, the offense will have to play like they have most of the season. Like last week in the win against Coastal, senior running back Wesley Fields needs to find the end zone at least once. If redshirt-sophomore quarterback Shai Werts plays like he has much of the season, look for GS to easily cover the 12-point spread set for the game.

 

Defensively, the Eagles should feast on a struggling offense. The GS defense has been stellar all year long, limiting opponents to an average of 22.3 points per game.

Despite Saturday’s matchup being a road game, look for GS to dominate GSU from start to finish, winning by three touchdowns. Werts rushes for a touchdown and throws for another as the Eagles set themselves up for their first 10-win season in FBS history.

Kickoff from Georgia State Stadium is set for 2 p.m. 

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, [email protected]