Homecoming game can go either way this Saturday

Georgia State lost 51-35 against Arkansas State on Oct. 18. Photo Submitted by Georgia State Athletics

The Homecoming football game this Saturday against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-3, 1-2) is a match between two teams that have thus far had unimpressive seasons. Both teams are 1-2 in Sun Belt Conference competition. Georgia State (2-5, 1-2) won the only meeting between the two schools, an ugly 27-21 game in 2017.

Luckily for Georgia State supporters, the Panthers are 2-1 at home and played exceptionally well in their last home game, a 46-14 domination over Louisiana-Monroe.

“But to see it come together in one game against ULM—in our stadium, in Georgia State Stadium, in front of our fans—to have as much excitement as we did should really put some people in the seats, because there is an opportunity to do this a few more times,” head coach Shawn Elliott said in the postgame press conference after defeating Louisiana-Monroe, snapping a three-game losing streak.

If fans take what Elliott said to heart, then the Homecoming crowd will resemble opening night turnout, just 2,000 under capacity, and not the 14,368 in attendance listed on the postgame statsheet for the Louisiana-Monroe game. The actual crowd against Louisiana-Monroe was much smaller than that in reality, and there were no fans present in a couple of sections.

On the other hand, Georgia State hasn’t won a game since it played Louisiana-Monroe. They’ve been outscored 88-55 in games since then as a result of road conference losses to Troy and Arkansas State.

“We have had a rough couple weeks … It was ugly, there was a lot of ugliness in these contests,” Elliott also said after the Louisiana-Monroe game.

The team was in a drought before that game, but had Elliot said that during the postgame press conference after last Thursday’s loss to Arkansas State, it would’ve been completely accurate in that setting as well.

Strangely, Georgia State outscored both Troy and Arkansas State in the second half. If Georgia State starts off fast against Coastal Carolina, they will give themselves a much better chance at winning. The only time Georgia State got a good start this season was during the Louisiana-Monroe game when they built a 20-point cushion early in the second quarter.

Against FBS competition, Coastal Carolina is 2-4 in terms of second half scoring battles. The Chanticleers have been outscored 63-28 in the second half against Sun Belt teams. The Panthers are outscoring conference opponents 61-21 in the second half.

Some similarities that Georgia State and Coastal Carolina share are offense lines which give up lots of sacks. The Panthers are tied with Troy for second most sacks given up this season at 20. The Chanticleers are tied with Texas State for most sacks given up with 21. Both teams are below average in the turnover battle: Georgia State is -2 and Coastal Carolina is -4.

“Turnovers killed us in the first half [against Arkansas State],” Elliott said. “We gave up a [91-yard] kickoff return, a fumble return for a touchdown … things like that, I don’t care what level you play at, you can’t do those things.”

Having turnovers against the Chanticleers could be costly because they are No. 4 in the conference with 432.3 yards per game. Chanticleer running back Marcus Outlow is a big touchdown threat, and he has scored on the ground at least once in the last six games.

Georgia State has one of the country’s worst defenses. In the Sun Belt, the Panthers are last in total defense (497 yards-per-game) and rushing defense (248.3 yards-per-game), and they are second to last in passing defense (248.7 yards-per-game).

Homecoming hasn’t been smooth sailing for football. It is 3-5, and last won on Homecoming in 2016 against Tennessee-Martin. Kickoff is 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and 92.9 FM.