WHOOSH!!!!!! Maybe it is just me but I would swear the college football season passed by so fast it broke the sound barrier. Alas, the 2015 season has come and gone. The Panthers season started with a tumultuous 2-6 start ended with a bang winning four straight and securing true bowl eligibility and a trip to the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Writers love to predict the future and make bold statements about what they think will or won’t happen, and I am no exception. Before the season started, my own idea of what may happen for Georgia State in 2015. Will I be patting myself on the back or will I be beating my head on my desk?
Georgia State Vs. Charlotte “The 49ers will not likely have a very good year in their inaugural season in FBS. My prediction? A “W.”
After winning their first two games of the season, including over Georgia State, Charlotte went 0-10 for the remainder of the year. I did predict this would be a W for the Panthers, and it should have been. This team proved what they are capable of, unfortunately they waited till the second half of the season to realize their potential.
Charlotte 23 Georgia State 20
Georgia State @New Mexico “The Aggies will be coming off what will likely be a major beating from the Florida Gators the week before. The Aggies might be favored headed into this game, but I think the Panthers can pull off the upset.”
New Mexico took a 61-13 clubbing by the Florida Gators, and followed that up with a 0-2 start to the year after a Panthers 32 win over the Aggies. The Panthers improved to 1-1.
Georgia State 34 New Mexico state 32
Georgia State @Oregon “Seven days after potentially matching their entire win total from 2014, the Panthers will be making a business trip even further west to earn some cash to hopefully and eventually purchase Turner Field. Oregon isn’t likely to go too easy on the Panthers either. I think it’s safe to say this will be one for the L column.”
The Panthers did get it handed to them pretty good by the Ducks, but Georgia State started to make things interesting put the Panthers did perform much better than most probably thought with 21 points alone in the third quarter.
Oregon 61 Georgia State 28
Georgia State Vs. Liberty “In 2014, Liberty went 9-5 and included a victory over the Panthers SunBelt rival Appalachian State. Panthers should win this game but must take the Flames seriously.”
Liberty appears to be one of those teams you just don’t want to schedule. Time of Possession ended up being the Panthers Achilles’ heel. The Panthers managed over 400 yards against the Flames in only 16:27 minutes of the entire game and only rushing for 11 yards. The Flames went on to win with over 500 total yards of offense.
Liberty 41 Georgia State 33
Georgia State Vs. Appalachian State “The Mountaineers won’t have the same luxury in 2015, however, I think they pull out another W but only by 10 at most.”
The ‘Eers came into the Georgia Dome and just dominated Panthers in every phase of the game holding the Panthers to a total of 225 yards in total offense while nearly putting another 500 spot on defense.
Appalachian State 33 Georgia State 3
Georgia State @Ball State “Panthers will likely come back to Atlanta with an L, but I suspect they give Ball State a decent test.”
Something happened with the Panthers after the loss to Appalachian State. Something changed with this team. They started having fun. As a result, they went up to coach Trent Miles’ old stomping grounds and left with a very convincing win over Ball State sparking a turn of events for a team about to embark on making history.
Georgia State 31 Ball State 19
Georgia State @Arkansas State “Expect the Red Wolves to make it 2-0 versus the Panthers all time.”
Up to this point of the season, the Panthers had basically established themselves as a road team. The Panthers tried to make things very interesting versus the Red Wolves leading at halftime 28-21, but the Red Wolves came out swinging scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Arkansas State finished the season 9-0 and the Sun Belt conference champion.
Arkansas State 48 Georgia State 34
Georgia Vs. Louisiana-Lafayette “Cajuns barely managed a 34-31 W playing host to the Panthers. They make a trip to the Georgia Dome this year and to me this could be the game that proves the Panthers are heading in the right direction. If you want the one game the Panthers must win… this is it. Put it all-out there.”
This is the game that got away in my opinion but it was also a game that, in retrospect, also showed that this was a team that needed to learn how to finish. With five seconds left in the game the Cajuns kicked a field goal to secure a victory that should have been the first for the Panthers in the Georgia Dome.
Louisiana-Lafayette 23 Georgia State 21
Georgia State @Texas State “Last year the Bobcats laid it on the Panthers pretty good ending Georgia State’s’ season with a 54-31 loss. 2015, the Panthers should be able to make this one a lot closer if transfers Kendrick Dorn and Demarcus Kirk can burn some clock and help keep the other teams off the field. Texas State pulls out another W.”
The Bobcats were just not very good in 2015 managing only two wins the entire season before Georgia State came for a visit. The Bobcats did get one more win, but it did not come at the expense of the Panthers who came out swinging and laid it on thick out in the Lonestar State. We also saw a Panther team who started a bit of a trend beginning with this win.
Georgia State 41 Texas State 19
Georgia State Vs. South Alabama “In 2014, the Panthers were 4 points away 3 times from having 4 wins. One of those three was a road trip versus the Jaguars where the Panthers were 5 minutes away from a victory until the Jaguars marched right down the field 85 yards in 1:02 minutes to take the lead and score the eventual game winning TD. This game will be close again, but I think the Panthers will be worn down by this point of the season due lack of depth.”
At this point of the season, the Panthers have yet to secure a victory at home in the Georgia Dome. The Jaguars came to Atlanta with five wins on the season and looking to score a bowl berth, but this was not the same Panthers that started the season. They ran into a brick wall while Georgia State secured their first home win on the season. This was probably one of the best defensive games the Panthers have played all season long.
Georgia State 24 South Alabama 10
Georgia State Vs. Troy “I do not expect the Trojans to go home with a W, but the Georgia State will make it not quite as easy in the Georgia Dome.”
The Panthers basically had this game in well in hand by the third quarter, but the Trojans did try to make things a bit uneasy in the Georgia Dome. A win is a win, and in the Panthers case.. that is three in a row – and a win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time in program history.
Georgia State 31 Troy 21
Georgia State @ That Team Down South (formerly known as Georgia Southern) “The Eagles will likely dominate this match up with a Panthers rush defense allowed 613 yards on the ground in 2014. Georgia State just isn’t built to stop that kind of attack just yet.”
A few times during the second half of the season, I mentioned that a team with momentum and a little confidence can be a dangerous thing. Even then, I fully admit I had my doubts that another win was possible. They proved me wrong and in a big way. Being one dimensional is never a good thing and when you run a triple option attack like that team down south, it can be devastating. The Panther defense, under the guidance of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, played what was probably their best game since this program started six years ago limiting the Eaglettes to 135 total yards on the ground. Georgia STATE would go on to score 27 unanswered points while securing 6 wins and the program’s first ever trip to a bowl game where they would face San Jose State at the inaugural Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Getting invited to a bowl game was icing on the cake for this program. While they did not come back to Atlanta with a victory, this team still has a lot to be proud of. “The Foundation” has been set for this program and should be the start of big things and set the tone for expectations going forward.