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Next: App’s closest league rival

neighborsAfter an off week, App State returns home to face Sun Belt foe Georgia State, its nearest league neighbor. Kickoff is 3:30. The game will be live on ESPN3. Playing their inaugural FBS season, the Mountaineers are coming off their first FBS win, 53-14, at Troy. They are 2-5 on the season, 1-2 in league play. Georgia State is in its second FBS season, with just one win its last 20 games. The one W came in this year’s opener against FCS Abilene Christian, and only thanks to a FG with 4 seconds left, 38-37. Georgia State has only five wins total in its past four seasons, including a 0-12 run last year. Here are four downs.

Sun Belch
Two weeks ago App State played a 1-win conference rival which lost to Abilene Christian. This week they play another 1-win rival who just .. beat .. Abilene Christian. The Panthers are last in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (avg. 43.6 points), total defense (avg. 499.2 yards), pass defense (155.1 efficiency), 3rd down defense (54.2 percent converted) and turnover margin (-12). Most of those numbers were boosted Saturday when Georgia State’s big “rival” Georgia Southern just pulverized the poor team, 69-31 – “The Panthers had great difficulty in getting off blocks and seemed to take horrible angles, particularly when the quarterback kept the ball or pitched it. It’s too late in the season to change schemes – that’s what the team tried before the disastrous effort against Arkansas State – before next week’s game at Appalachian State.”

Get your motor runnin’ ….
We’ve often pointed out that, thanks in great part to Campbell, App State has compiled some outrageously misleading stats. Against Troy State, the team lived up to them. App broke 21 points for the first time this season against a peer, as well as going for more than 400 yards of offense (551 to be exact). The team also had a powerful ground game, covering 441 yards of ground. The Panthers don’t defend either the rush or pass very well, so App State has a chance to build further confidence if it can find a rhythm early.

While we snark the defensive stats, Georgia State has a pedestrian offense. It’s scored 27 or more points in all but two games this season. It put up 27 in a three-point loss at South Alabama, a TD more than App State managed at home against the Jaguars. The Panthers also doubled App State’s output against GS – scoring 31 points while App managed just 14. In passing yards the team is 15th in FBS at 316.3 a game. Rushing is near bottom, averaging just 105.9 yards a game (115th nationally). QB Nick Arbuckle is completing 61 percent of his passes, with 16 TDs to 9 INTs. Five Panthers have caught double-digit passes, led by Donovan Harden (88.4 yards a game, 7 TDs on season).

Family matters
Saturday is Family Weekend at App State, so odds are the crowd should safely be plus-20,000. For the season, App State is averaging 25,378 fans a home game, third highest in the Sun Belt. Georgia State, meanwhile, has become a running joke for its creative use of imaginary numbers in calculating attendance. On paper, the program is averaging 15,145 people a home game. That includes not just tickets sold, but janitors, concession workers, players and all flight manifests that cross Georgia Dome airspace. Last Saturday’s rival game proves the point – “The announced attendance of around 28,000 is different than the actual attendance, which was around 18,000. Georgia State provides both numbers.”

Georgia State is ranked 194th by Sagarin. Only Eastern Michigan (203) ranks lower among FBS programs … App State is 143rd in Sagarin, 18th lowest in FBS … App State is one of three Sun Belt schools to have played just three league games so far this season. Arkansas State and Texas State are both 2-1 … Georgia State hasn’t won a road game since winning at Rhode Island Oct. 13, 2012. It was just the second road win in program history, the first a 24-21 win at Campbell in the program’s inaugural football season in 2010 … App State hasn’t won back-to-back games since the end of last season, when it beat Wofford and the ‘Whee … As most remember, the former AD at App State left over the summer to take the reigns at Georgia State. Many will make this game somewhat about him. We will not.

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