Ball State Cardinals (3-9) at Georgia State Panthers (6-7)
|Date & Time||Friday September 2, 2016, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Georgia State Panthers -3 -- Over/Under: 53
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The Ball State Cardinals will travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Georgia State Panthers this upcoming Friday in College Football action.
The Ball State Cardinals finished the 2015 season with a 3-9 overall record while finishing 5th in the MAC-West division with a 2-6 record. Head Coach Mike Neu will take over the coaching duties for the Cardinals this season and will have his work cut out for him as he is taking over a team that struggled on both sides of the ball as Ball State finished last year ranking 102nd in scoring offense and T-108th in scoring defense. Ball State will return some of their primary offensive players from last year’s team including QB Riley Neal who finished last season averaging 206.9 passing yds/game while throwing for 16 TD and just 6 INT as a freshman. Neal’s main target on as WR will be KeVonn Mabon who averaged 5.8 rec/game for 76.7 yds/game last season while catching 2 TD’s. Leading the Cardinals rushing attack will be Darian Green (12.08 Att/game; 60.83 yds/game; 5 TD) and James Gilbert (12.67 Att/G; 50.67 yds/game; 8 TD). For Ball State to become more competitive this season they’ll need to find ways to fix a defense that allowed opponents to average 518.0 total yds/game (225.5 rushing yds/game; 292.5 passing yds/game). Ball State defense is led by their defensive ends Anthony Winbush (lead team in sacks in 2015) and Joshua Posley however, will need to see improvement in the secondary if they want to give their offensive a chance to win games.
The Georgia State Panthers finished last season with a 6-7 overall record (5-3 Sun Belt) however, finished the season on a positive note winning their last 4 regular season games to earn a spot in the Cure Bowl which they went on to lost to San Jose State, 27-16. George State will return 7 offensive starters from last year’s team however, will have to replace QB Nick Arbuckle who averaged 336.0 passing yds/game for the Panthers last season. Replacing Arbuckle looks to be Conner Manning and although Manning has little experience, he will have one of the best receiving groups in the conference led by WR Penny Hart (5.5 rec/game; 84.5 yds/game; 8 TD), WR Robert Davis (4.7 rec/game; 75.4 yds/game; 6 TD) and TE Keith Rucker (3.9 rec/game; 52.2 yds/game; 6 TD). The Panthers rushing attack will be led by Glenn Smith (6.85 Att/game; 27.38 yds/game; 1 TD) and Kyler Neal (7.0 Att/game; 27.42 yds/game; 5 TD). Georgia State will be returning 9 starters on a defense that ranked T-79 last season in nation giving up an average of 28.3 ppg. The Panthers should continue to see improvement on the defense end this season and have an outstanding secondary led by Jerome Smith and Shandon Sullivan. Georgia State will also look for LB Alonzo McGee who had 70 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season to make an impact in the middle of the Panthers defense.
The Cardinals are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games in September and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games. The Panthers are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall and 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 home games.
Ball State has the potential to be able to put up some points this season if they continue to get improvements from QB Riley Neal, however, Georgia State’s strength on their defense is their secondary which could slow down Neal and Cardinals in this one. Although Georgia State will have a new QB under center this season, I think they have enough weapons on offense to exploit what will still probably be a very weak Ball State defense and I think the Panthers will be able to cover this small spread at home in this one. Take Georgia State to cover.