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The Sunbelt Conference takes center stage Thursday night as the Georgia State Panthers (2-4) travel to Arkansas to play host Arkansas State (3-3). Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm at Centennial Bank Stadium. Both teams have struggled in Conference play and look to this game to get on track.
Georgia State’s Horrible Defense
This is a very winnable game for the Panthers but they are going to need to score more points than their 22.3 average. The Red Wolves allow 244.7 rushing yards per game and that bodes well for Junior QB Dan Ellington. Ellington is the Panthers leading rusher with 270 yards and four TD’s on 85 attempts. Ellington has also thrown for 1224 yards and five TD’s, completing 104 passes on 165 attempts. It’s safe to say that as Dan Ellington goes so does the Panther offense.
Georgia State excels in the Red Zone; the Panthers have scored on 18 of their 20 trips. They aren’t as successful converting third downs, converting 30 of their of their 78 opportunities. The Panthers have fared much better on fourth downs, converting on eight of their 14 tries.
There isn’t an easy way to say this so I will just go straight; the Panthers defense is terrible. They allow nearly 500 total yards per game; 247.3 yards through the air and 244.2 rushing yards per game. This defense has allowed 26 TD’s and offenses convert 44 percent of their third downs and 69 percent of their fourth-down opportunities. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Red Zone defense allows teams to score 87 percent of the time they get the chance to.
The Red Hawks Tough Schedule
Arkansas State has wins over Tulsa and UNLV so this team can play tackle football. They also have losses to Alabama and Appalachian State so this football team might be better than their 3-3 record indicates.
Senior QB Justice Hansen has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 1538 yards, 11 TD’s and five interceptions. He’s coming off a rough night against Appalachian State last week as he was picked off three times. Hansen also has 219 rushing yards and two TD’s and been sacked 11 times this season. Five players have two receiving TD’s with Junior WR Kirk Merritt being the go-to guy. Merritt has 311 receiving yards and one TD on 38 catches. Freshman RB Marcel Murray leads a balanced rushing attack with 298 yards and two TD’s on 55 attempts.
The Red Wolves offense has converted 35 percent of its third downs and 52 percent of their fourth-down opportunities. Arkansas State has scored on 16 of their 18 Red Zone possessions and Freshman PK Blake Grupe has two field goals of 45 yards or longer.
The Red Wolves defense is much better than their numbers. We must remember that this team has played against four very strong offenses and still is a .500 team. Teams average 147.3 passing yards and 244.7 rushing yards per game. Arkansas State has allowed 25 TD’s this season; teams convert 37 percent of its third downs and 44 percent of their fourth downs. Considering the Red Wolves schedule it shouldn’t come as any surprise that teams have scored on 85 percent of its Red Zone possessions.
- Red Wolves are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games.
- Red Wolves are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games in October.
- Panthers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
- Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Panthers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
On paper this should be a game in which the Panthers cover the 14 points. On paper this game looks to be a crazy shootout. It’s easy to see it this way as both these teams score points and at least on paper neither team seems to be all that interested in playing defense. Then you look at their schedule and you see why the Red Hawks have given up a boat load of yards.
The Red Hawks have won each of their last four meetings and where normally that might be a motivating factor Georgia State is in rebuilding mode. That’s why we see so many players so active on the Georgia State side.
If the line was more than 14 points I would suggest you take the points and play the Panthers but I believe this Red Hawks team is better than their record and should cover 14 points against this Georgia State football team Thursday night.
Prediction: Arkansas State -14
Full-Game Total Pick
As previously mentioned, Georgia State has an awful defense. That tackle football team allows 500 yards and 34 points per game. Arkansas State has allowed opponents to average 449 yards and 30.4 points per game. As previously noted the numbers might be a bit skewed as Arkansas State has had to play some high scoring teams.
All that being said; I like Arkansas State to cover the 14 points however I’m not going to get fooled into thinking the Red Hawks will all of a sudden become a lock down defensive football team. Because they won’t. I also believe this Arkansas team wouldn’t mind getting into a shootout because they must know that they are the better football team here. Georgia State can score points and I’m sure they will. If they score three TD’s Thursday night this thing might hit 65 points or more because I see the Red Hawks scoring at least 40 points on Thursday night. Play the over and cash that ticket!!
Prediction: Over 53.5 Points