Panthers seeking first win Saturday as they host Charlotte 49ers at Center Parc Stadium

Previewing Georgia State’s home matchup against the Charlotte 49ers. Photo by Harry Wyman | The Signal

Georgia State returns home in week three and welcomes Conference USA-foe the Charlotte 49ers. 

The two will face off for the first time since the Panthers’ 28-0 road win at Charlotte in 2017. The two teams were supposed to face off last year, but false-positive COVID-19 tests resulted in the game’s cancellation. 

It’s a new year with new players, and as such, the two teams have had quite the opposite starts to their season. After dropping their season opener to the Army Black Knights 43-10 at Center Parc Stadium, the Panthers left their fans with a sour taste in their mouths. 

Shawn Elliott’s team left Chapel Hill three days ago after the North Carolina Tar Heels dissected them in a 59-17 one-sided match.

On the other hand, the 49ers’ have scored over 30 points in their first two games to start 2-0. Their most explosive offensive weapons, running back Shadrick Byrd and receiver Victor Tucker, lead an offense that could trouble a Panthers’ defense struggling to find an identity.

The Panthers can turn their season around, but Elliott and his team will need help from their top players to get in the win column. 

Cornelious Brown hasn’t found much success this season throwing the ball. He’s yet to through a touchdown in his first 46 passes, and his 20 QBR is outside of the top-100 in the country. With the Panthers back home and facing their final test before a road game against the Auburn Tigers, Saturday would be the perfect time for Brown and his receivers to put points on the board.

Brown’s last game against a Conference USA opponent came in the LendingTree Bowl when he was sensational against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. He earned the game’s MVP throwing for 232 yards and three touchdowns. If he can find his form, the 49ers’ defense might be in for a long night. Brown’s athleticism in the play-action is crucial for a Panther victory. 

Sam Pinckney could certainly help Brown return to form. After missing the first game against Army, the redshirt junior played against the Tar Heels, hauling in just one catch for 12 yards. Week three will be Pinckney’s first home game of the season, and he’ll look to give the home crowd an electric performance reminiscent of last season. 

On the 49ers’ side, Victor Tucker had a huge day in the upset victory against the Duke Blue Devils in week one. In the upset win, Tucker caught eight passes for 133 yards. The senior wide receiver has been a critical weapon for the 49er offense and will be crucial in Atlanta’s hotly contested road game. 

While he didn’t get into the endzone, he was crucial in moving the 49ers’ offense across the field, especially on third-down situations. 

Chris Reynolds won’t grab any headlines but is a definite player to watch against Georgia State. He shredded the Blue Devil defense, throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

Reynolds will look to capitalize on a vulnerable Georgia State defense early.

Prediction: Charlotte 35, Georgia State 28 

Brown and Pinckney will return to form at home but expect the secondary to struggle to contain the 49ers’ offense. Charlotte will look to silence the crowd quickly, and Reynolds and Tucker will likely put big numbers against a weak Panthers secondary. 

Catch the game Saturday at 7 p.m. EST at Center Parc Stadium or watch it on the ESPN+ stream.