No mercy for the Panthers

Hayden Boudreaux

With only one more game remaining before the Eagles head off to their first bowl appearance, the team standing in their way has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Georgia Southern will face off against Georgia State this Saturday, with the Panthers fighting for bowl eligibility.

The Eagles were able to turn away South Alabama’s bowl hopes last weekend at Paulson, but they will need to repeat that effort against their determined in-state rival. The Panthers are currently experiencing their most successful season since joining the FBS three years ago. They’ve earned the same amount of wins in this season than the past four seasons combined. Last year, the Eagles were able to put them down handedly 69-31, but the Panthers did move the ball through the air. This is a game the Eagles should win, but a loss would be crippling to the moral of the program and the fans, especially after the near win to UGA and the beat down of South Alabama.

Passing is the name of the game for the Panthers and they do it better than most in the conference. Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle is currently the second best QB in the conference in regards to passer rating. He’s also first in yardage with more than 900 yards passing more than the second place contender. Arbuckle averages nine yards per attempt to his elite stable of receivers. Of these receivers, Penny Hart and Robert Davis both lead the Sun Belt in receiving yards with 966 and 932, respectively. Luckily, the Eagles have Antonio Glover, who leads the conference and has tied the school record with six interceptions. Also, their lack of a running game will make the game a bit easier for the Eagle’s defensive coaches to lock down.

As good as the passing attack is for the Panthers, they are certainly lacking in the defensive department. Georgia State allows an average of 434.9 total yards and 30.4 points per game, but the motivation of playing for a bowl game could swing momentum in their favor. The two spearheads of their defense, Joseph Peterson and Tarris Batiste, will need to have the game of their lives to slow down the Eagle offensive machine. Peterson leads the team in tackles with 97 and has picked up six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His counterpart has 87 tackles of his own with 4.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions on the year.

There are a few big storylines heading into the last game of the season. It will be the last chance for Eagle running back Matt Breida to break the 1,500 yard mark. The junior phenom has already beat his rushing total from last season and is currently only five yards away from hitting the milestone. Additionally, assistant coach Dell McGee is up for the Broyles award, which is awarded to the best assistant coach in the FBS. The Eagles are capable of pulling off a ten win season, and as long as they handle their business this week, they will easily pick up another tick in the win column. The last chance to see the Eagles in Paulson Stadium this season will begin at 2pm.