Georgia State’s defense came up with a gem, slowing down WKU – at least for most of the game – in the 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl.
2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl: Georgia State 27, WKU 17
Prediction & Game Preview
WKU 31, Georgia State 17
WKU -6, o/u: 51.5
5. WKU couldn’t afford to screw up, and it did
Even with a big touchdown catch from Roger Carter late in the third, this wasn’t a dangerous Georgia State team – the offense is limited and it wasn’t going to do a whole bunch if this was a shootout. The key for the Hilltoppers was to keep the chains moving, get up, and don’t make mistakes.
WKU lost the third down battle – converting just 5-of-12 chances – committed ten penalties to GSU’s four, and was a -2 in the turnover margin. Give the Panthers credit for forcing a slew of the mistakes to happen, but WKU will be kicking itself for not being sharper.
4. The Georgia State ground game
WKU doesn’t run, doesn’t care about rushing stats, and doesn’t need rushing production – until the Cure Bowl. The Hilltoppers needed something to help balance things out just a wee bit, but instead, they ran 21 times for -2 yards.
Meanwhile, Georgia State took total control of the game with slow and steady production. It only came up with 3.3 yards per carry with 143 yards and two scores, with Glenn Smith leading the way with 73 yards on 23 carries. That lead to a whole slew of makable third down chances, which was part of the reason why …
3. It was all about the QBs, and the other one showed up
Again, WKU has no running game, so it was all about Mike White and the Hilltopper air show. He ended up with 351 yards and two scores, but most of those came very, very late after Georgia State had control of the game. Meanwhile, Conner Manning completed 20-of-28 passes for 276 yards and a score. He didn’t screw up, he kept the offense moving, and he did it all without star receiver Penny Hart doing much – with just one catch for 27 yards.
2. Sun Belt 2, Conference USA 0
Conference USA might have several other bowl games and chances to shine, but after North Texas was blown away by Troy in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and now this, it’s been an awful, awful start for the league.
And for a Sun Belt conference that’s always looking for respect, no matter what happens the rest of the way, it has two good, strong wins it can pump up and promote. Don’t blow this off – it’s always a fight to get any sort of love and respect. This proves the league really can play a little bit.
1. Georgia State’s magnificent turnaround
Trent Miles got Georgia State to a bowl game in 2015, but the program slipped last year with a. rough 3-9 run. Enter new head man Shawn Elliott, a new ballpark to play in, and a new attitude overall for a program with five horrible losing seasons in the previous six.
There wasn’t a whole lot of pop and explosion from the offense when Penny Hart wasn’t doing big things, but the defense was solid, the wins came against the teams the Panthers were supposed to beat, and now, with this bowl victory – the first in school history – this 8-5 run really is special.
Considering the program plays in downtown Atlanta, and it has a chance to make a little noise in the big city atmosphere, a win like this and a season like this are big, big boosts to a rising team and a hot coach who’ll crank up the expectations even further.