Blue White Illustrated

Georgia State Pregame

Penn State Sports Magazine

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under Trent Miles. Before that, Elliott spent seven seasons at South Carolina, where he served as co-offensive coordina- tor and offensive line coach. Prior to his stint in Columbia under Steve Spurrier, he was at Appalachian State, his alma mater, for 13 years. One of the reasons that the Georgia State job was open after last season was that the Panthers weren't very good at stopping opposing ball carriers. They gave up 206.8 yards per game on the ground in 2016 to rank seventh in the Sun Belt Conference and 95th in the FBS. That problem persisted in this year's opener against Tennessee State. The Tigers, a Football Championship Subdivi- sion team from the Ohio Valley Confer- ence, piled up 238 rushing yards and spoiled Elliott's debut on the sideline by pulling off a 17-10 victory in Atlanta. Quarterback Treon Harris supplied a game-high 91 rushing yards, while both of Tennessee State's running backs topped 70 yards. And now the Panthers are getting set to face perhaps the best running back in the country. In Barkley, they're going to be seeing a le- gitimate Heisman Trophy candidate who gouged Akron for 172 rushing yards on only 14 carries in Penn State's season opener and totaled 183 all-purpose yards last Sat- urday against Pitt, keeping the Nittany Lions comfortably ahead with two second- half touchdowns. "I've had the opportunity to see a lot of good backs in my time, and he's right up there," said Elliott, who worked with Mar- cus Lattimore among others during his stint at South Carolina. "He's powerful. That's the thing about it. He's just got so much strength, and you've got to gang tackle this guy. You've got to really rally to the football." One unusual aspect of the Panthers' per- formance last year was that while they struggled against their Sun Belt Confer- ence opponents, going 2-6 in league play, they looked very good in the toughest game of their season: a September road trip to ninth-ranked Wisconsin. Georgia State held a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter at Camp Randall Stadium, but the Badgers scored 10 points in the final eight minutes to escape with a hard-fought 23- 17 victory. The Panthers may not have been able to hold onto their late lead in that game, but their front seven held up reasonably well. Wisconsin needed 49 carries to amass 187 rushing yards, an average of only 3.8 yards per carry. Elliott wasn't with Georgia State for that game, but he was on the sideline for one of college football's most memorable David- vs.-Goliath battles. In 2007, he was in his 11th season as offensive line coach at Ap- palachian State when the Mountaineers went into Ann Arbor and stunned fifth- ranked Michigan, 34-32. So it's not all that surprising that when he was asked earlier this week what his team hopes to get out of its matchup with fitth- ranked Penn State – a matchup for which Georgia State is set to receive $1.2 million – he replied, "First and foremost is a win." "I know you probably sit there and laugh," he continued. "But we're going up there to play that football game just like any other. We got to come up there and we've got to execute – offensively, defen- sively and on special teams. "We've got a lot at stake for our football program here. It's a great venue to be play- ing in. It's an opportunity for us. We're going to be playing on the Big Ten Network, so a lot of people are going to see Georgia State football. We're going to go out and, win or lose, Penn State is going to know we came up there to play a football game. I can assure you of that." S E P T E M B E R 1 3 , 2 0 1 7 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 2 NATE BAUER 2-0 | Penn State's offense wasn't quite in sync last Saturday during its 33- 14 win against Pittsburgh, and yet the Nittany Lions still topped 30 points. Hosting Geor- gia State this weekend, I expect that hiccup to be reversed, as Penn State's explosive athletes resume the output that saw them hang 52 on Akron in the first week of the season. And, if the Panthers' offensive struggles against Tennessee State are any indication, Penn State's defense should find similar success. | PENN STATE 56, GEORGIA STATE 3 PHIL GROSZ 2-0 | All the matchups on offense and defense indicate that the Nittany Lions should totally dominate this game. Georgia State is coming off a loss to an un- ranked FCS team, Tennessee State. The Panthers were only able to rush for 49 yards and averaged 1.7 yards per carry, totalling 273 yards of offense. Defensively, Georgia State rank 130th in the country against the run aBer allowing Tennessee State to rush for 238 yards and average 5.7 yards per carry. This is a game in which Penn State's high-powered offense should total close to 600 yards and completely shut down Georgia State's strug- gling offense. | PENN STATE 56, GEORGIA STATE 3 MATT HERB 2-0 | Penn State is going to have to guard against overconfidence this week, and the fact that Georgia State put up a pretty good fight against Wisconsin at Camp Ran- dall Stadium just a year ago should help James Franklin in that regard. But the reality is that the Nittany Lions have a significant edge in virtually every matchup on the field. What's more, they will be playing at home, and at night, an environment that has usually brought out their best, regardless of the opponent. If all goes well, they should be able to get Tommy Stevens, Miles Sanders and their fellow backups some valuable game reps in the second half. | PENN STATE 45, GEORGIA STATE 10 TIM OWEN 2-0 | More than a five-touchdown favorite, Penn State meets a Georgia State team that last year won only three games but fought with grit each outing. Despite losing nine games, the Panthers' average margin of defeat was less than a touchdown, largely be- cause of how they limited opponents' big plays. Their defense was among the best three in the country a year ago in allowing gains of 20 yards or more, and in a week three game con- test against Wisconsin, they held the Badgers below most of their season averages and lost by just 6 points. It won't be that tight in Beaver Stadium Saturday night, as a few of the main figures from that Georgia State defense are graduated and FCS Tennessee State gouged them on the ground for a 17-10 win last week, but it might not end up being the run- away that many expect it to be. | PENN STATE 41, GEORGIA STATE 13 RYAN SNYDER 2-0 | Penn State gets one last tune-up before beginning Big Ten play next week with a road trip to Iowa. Expect to see plenty of backups take the field in the second half of this one. | PENN STATE 58, GEORGIA STATE 7 S T A F F P R E D I C T I O N S

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