Georgia State (0-2) at West Virginia (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mountaineer Field (63,500) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television: Mountaineer Network. Home Record: GSU 0-2, WVU 1-0. Away Record: GSU 0-0, WVU 0-1. Neutral Record: GSU 0-0, WVU 0-0. Conference Record: GSU 0-0, WVU 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Georgia State, which has fielded a football team only since 2010, goes up against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first-ever meeting between the two this Saturday in Morgantown.
The Panthers, members of the Sun Belt Conference, have gotten off to a shaky start in 2013 with consecutive defeats, then again they were just 1-10 last season while competing as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision. Playing home games in the Georgia Dome, the Panthers first bowed to Samford in the opener by a score of 31-21 on Aug. 30, and then followed that up with a 42-14 loss versus Chattanooga this past weekend, which means they've now dropped six in a row overall.
The most recent win for GSU came in a 41-7 thrashing of Rhode Island in Kingston last October.
As for the Mountaineers, they too have had their troubles in the early going as well, barely getting by William & Mary in the home opener, 24-17, and then being taken down by 16th-ranked Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener last weekend, 16-7.
After two weeks last season West Virginia had taken out the first two opponents, Marshall and James Madison, by a combined score of 111-46. By the sixth week of the 2012 season, WVU was fifth in the nation in scoring with 52.0 ppg, head and shoulders above what is expected here in 2013.
The Panthers were handled rather easily by Chattanooga last time out and GSU head coach Trent Miles accepted all the blame for the poor effort on both sides of the ball. Georgia State trailed 42-0 in the fourth quarter before Ben McLane hit Albert Wilson with touchdown passes of five and 30 yards and by then it was too little, too late.
McLane finished the meeting 7-of-12 for 164 yards, stepping in for Ronnie Bell who converted just 9-of-22 passes for 70 yards and was sacked twice. Due to those two sacks, GSU's ground game generated a net of only 30 yards on 17 attempts. Through the air, Wilson finished with seven catches for 132 yards, and Robert Davis contributed four grabs for another 100 yards.
From a defensive standpoint, Kail Singleton was credited with a team-best 10 tackles, but at the same time the Mocs were generating 401 net yards and four TDs on the ground. The run defense was much stronger in the opener this season against Samford, but still the team is allowing an average of 403.5 ypg in total offense.
Obviously McLane showed some positive attributes last week, but one has to wonder how much of that was based on a backup, with no pressure to perform, doing so against backups on the defensive side of the ball as well. What the offense for the Panthers really needs to get going is a ground attack that can at least play well enough for the squad to maintain drives a bit longer.
After two games, the Panthers are averaging a mere 51.0 ypg and a paltry 2.4 yards per attempt.
As for the Mountaineers, they scored the first points of the game against Oklahoma on the road last Saturday, thanks to a 75-yard TD run by Dreamius Smith at the 8:54 mark of the first quarter, but after that the offense was barely heard from.
In fact, the scoring total for WVU was the lowest since Dana Holgorsen took over as head coach.
Even with the lengthy run by Smith, he ended up with just 77 net yards in the meeting, a sizeable chunk of the unit's 169 rushing yards on 24 attempts. Quarterback Paul Millard remained in the pocket as he converted 21-of-41 passes for 218 yards, was picked off once and suffered a sack.
Granted, the Mountaineers did keep Oklahoma from running up the score on them, but in the end the Sooners still gained 316 yards rushing, marking the second time in the last three games that WVU has given up at least 300 yards on the ground.
Then again, this was a defense that was one of the worst in the country last season, ranking 108th with 472.5 ypg allowed and 114th with 38.1 ppg given up. However, the difference back then was that the pass defense was being picked apart for a massive 312.5 ypg (118th in the country), so for now it appears the holes are more up front than they are in the secondary.
Unfortunately, the Mountaineers were in the news off the field last week for the wrong reasons, with reports surfacing that assistant football coach Joe DeForest was at the center of a Sports Illustrated investigative report that alleged years of misconduct within Oklahoma State's football program that included paying players and providing sex to prospective recruits.
Luckily for the Mountaineers, this meeting with GSU might be just what the team needs in order to take the focus both off their poor performance thus far and the distractions off the field. Granted, beating up on the Panthers won't make WVU into a national power, but winning may be able to quiet things a bit.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 41, Georgia State 14
09/11 10:32:13 ET