By Zach Walker
San Jose State Spartans vs. Georgia State Panthers
Saturday – December 19 – 6:00 pm CT
Florida Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Florida
Records Before the Game
San Jose State Spartans (5-7, 4-4 Mountain West)
Georgia State Panthers (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt)
How did these teams reach this game?
San Jose State is playing in this bowl game, because of their academics, which I think is actually really cool. They are, of course as it’s always thrown in everyone’s face, STUDENT-athletes. Georgia State railed off four straight wins to finish their season, including a blowout finale versus fresh rival Georgia Southern.
San Jose State
The Spartans are still trying to replace David Fales, drafted two years ago and it hasn’t been the easiest job. The quarterbacks played this season were good, but nothing really to write home about. Kenny Potter played in 10 games and Joe Gray in six and both had a positive touchdown to interception ratio, but Potter threw only two 300 yard games, and Gray threw none. However, the Spartan offense is a run heavy one, and the lead back is special. Tyler Ervin is a highly versatile, switch-blade style of running back. Five foot ten, and only 177 pounds. I spent this season watching the SMU running backs and they were very successful, albeit not to this level of success, but this mold of slasher backs really works. Ervin rushed for 1469 yards and had 44 catches for 337 yards. He’s truly the Spartans’ lead dog. On defense, Christian Tago, the junior linebacker racked up 117 tackles and 9 tackles for loss. Jimmy Pruitt and Cleveland Wallace have three picks a piece, and have both have taken one back for six.
The Panthers have a serious aerial attack on their hands. Former junior college transfer, senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle is a serious spinner. The six foot one, 64.1 percent passer was bombing it this season. Arbuckle is throwing the ball at 9.1 yards per attempt, that’s 0.4 yards per attempt more than Ben Roethlisberger, I understand the competition level, but that’s to illustrate this guy’s mentality and philosophy on the field, and that’s to push it downfield. The Panthers have four solid options, and they all have at least four touchdowns. Keith Russell, the six foot three junior tight end had 39 catches, 522 yards and six touchdowns, but the true star attraction was the freshman wide receiver. Penny Hart, the five foot nine option had 71 catches for 1095 yards and eight touchdowns. But they have more, Robert Davis (60/979/6) and Donovan Harden (35/662/4) and Arbuckle has the ability to get the ball to any of them. On the Panthers’ defense, they’re pretty good at taking the ball away with 14 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Safety Tarris Batiste had 95 tackles, four picks, and two forced fumbles.
Prediction: Georgia State 38 – San Jose State 28