Cure Bowl – Citrus Bowl
Georgia State made one of the most improbable comebacks of the year to finish with six wins and a bowl berth. After starting the season at 2-6 with losses to two-win Charlotte and FCS school Liberty, the Panthers somehow reeled off Four straight wins to reach six total. And now, they get to play a five-win San Jose State team in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. The Spartans are a -3 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
San Jose State was one of three five-win teams to make it to a bowl Game, with the other two coming from the Big Ten. Playing in the Mountain West, there isn’t much to say about the Spartans, as they had one win all year against an FBS team with more than three wins. They competed against the likes of Auburn (35-21), BYU (17-16) and Nevada (37-34), but competing and winning are two different things.
Even playing in the Sun Belt, Georgia State’s run may have been more impressive. This was a completely different team later in the season and that was highlighted by an incredible 34-7 road win at Georgia Southern in the season finale as a 20-point underdog. In fact, three of their final Four wins came as an underdog. In just their second season of bowl eligibility, that’s an impressive feat to make it to six.
One thing Georgia State can do is pass the ball. Senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle has huge numbers on the year and almost threw for 350 yards per Game to go with 26 TDs, 11 INTs and a 64.1% completion rate. That’s significant because SJSU allows the second-fewest passing yards per Game. Of course, on the other end of that, they are terrible at stopping the run. But that’s not good for Georgia State, who does not have a rusher with more than 334 yards, although they do have three guys with at least 75 carries and 320 yards.
But so far, stats like this haven’t mattered for the Panthers in their winning streak. Arbuckle and receiver Penny Hart (1,095 yards, 8 TDs) torched a solid Georgia Southern defense, while they also ran the ball 37 times, mainly because of the lead.
Georgia State doesn’t have good seasonal numbers on the defensive side, but again, has been stout over the past Four Games. They’ll get an SJSU team that plans on running the ball as much as possible. However, that was Georgia Southern’s approach as well and they totaled just 3.1 yards per carry.
San Jose State has had success against bad teams rushing the ball, but in all of their losses tended to struggle. Tyler Ervin finished with 1,469 yards and 13 touchdowns, although 563 of those yards came in two wins. It could be a tough day for Ervin against this defense, which means quarterback Kenny Potter may be called upon. Potter has been solid this year, completing 68.5% of his passes on the year and he has 11 touchdowns in the last five Games, but most of that hasn’t mattered because the Spartans give up a ton of points on the other end.
San Jose State may play in the better conference, but they kind of backed into this bowl Game, while Georgia State won its last Four Games to get here. The Panthers get the mental edge and also the proximity edge as SJSU has to travel across the country.
The Panthers are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven Games overall, while the Spartans are an interesting 0-8 ATS in their last eight after throwing for 280 passing yards in their previous Game.
Our Pick – Once again, we bring up motivation. One team thrilled to be here in Georgia State and the other team, San Jose, that didn’t even win the minimum required 6 Games to reach a bowl.
We’re going to go with the more motivated team that’s also played the better football down the stretch. Our model picks Georgia State straight up when using only the last 7 Games worth of data. Georgia State +3