Will Georgia State be a player for the conference championship?

Georgia State football (2-2) is entering new territory since the program’s inception over a decade ago. For the first time in its history, the team is over .500 entering conference play against Texas State on Sept. 21. The team may now be a dark horse for the conference title.

Georgia State opened up play with a dominant statement win over the Tennessee Volunteers. The team then followed the upset victory with a thrilling shootout against Furman, played in a raucous Georgia State Stadium.

Associate Athletic Director Mike Holmes sees the first three games of the season as a hint of better things to come.

“Although everyone is happy to be [2-2], it’s just the start of hopefully a lot of great things to come,” Holmes said.

Holmes also noted his vision for the team to become a force to be reckoned with in the conference. The program’s ultimate goal is not just to win inside the conference, but ultimately compete for more bowls in postseason play.

“Our goal as an athletic department is to win as many Sun Belt Conference Championships each year to advance to NCAA postseason play,” he said.

The early season success of Georgia State has also impressed the higher ups of the conference. Sun Belt Associate Commissioner Scottie Rodgers also notices the rise of Georgia State.

“The wins by Georgia State have shown how much the program has grown and they have a great shot at possibly winning the Conference,” Rodgers said.

While Georgia State was routed by Western Michigan 57-10 in Waldo Stadium, the team is still looking to capture its first conference championship. Georgia State is now transitioning to conference play. Texas State, like Georgia State, was last in their respective division last year (3-9) and looking for a bounce-back season. The trip to San Marcos, Texas will not be an easy one.

However, the future is very bright for Georgia State as they try to win the division for a spot in the championship.The Panthers currently boast one of the best offenses in the Sun Belt and will need to be consistent against rival teams.

In the first three games, Georgia State ranks second in total offense in the Sun Belt. While the team is yet to enter conference play, it has proven its ability to compete with any program. 

Georgia State will also need to contend with the best teams from to win the conference. Teams such as Troy who were runners up to Appalachian State will be a tough out for the Panthers. Lead by Quarterback Kaleb Barker the Trojans are looking to get back to championship game after last year’s loss. 

In order to be in a position to win the Sun Belt, Georgia State must win the eastern division over last years champion, Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have won the Sun Belt in back-to-back seasons and will be a tough challenge for Georgia State going forward. Georgia State will face off against the Mountaineers on Nov. 16 in Atlanta, in what could be a winner-take-all grudge match for the east division. 

Georgia State must have the team to not only be competitive, but become the new dominant force in the conference. With a balanced offensive, led by quarterback Dan Ellington and running back Tra Barnett, there is no reason why the Panthers cannot be competitive.

While the team’s defense will need to improve, after a route at the hands of Western Michigan, this team should not be counted out, as they embark on what may become a historic season for the program.