Georgia State looks to snap late-season slump facing Utah State in Idaho Potato Bowl

Fri, Dec 22, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Georgia State looks to snap late-season slump facing Utah State in Idaho Potato Bowl

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Georgia State (6-6, Sun Belt) vs. Utah State (6-6, Mountain West), Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

Line: Utah State by 3 1/2 according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?

Other news Florida State has sued the ACC, setting the stage for a fight to leave over revenue concerns Georgia getting ready for a bowl, but it sure feels different than the last 2 years Michigan receives notice of allegations from NCAA related to recruiting and impermissible coaching

The first meeting between the Aggies and Panthers comes after a rocky season for both teams. For a time, Georgia State looked to be among the elite in the Sun Belt with a 6-1 start, only to lose its final five games to finish at .500. Utah State was 3-5 at one point, but won three of its last four games to reach bowl eligibility, two of those in overtime. The Aggies beat San Diego State in double OT and topped New Mexico 44-41 in OT on the final weekend to get their sixth win. Utah State is in a bowl game for the 11th time in 13 seasons and its fifth trip all-time to the Potato Bowl. Georgia State is seeking its third straight bowl victory and first since 2021 when the Panthers beat Ball State in the Camellia Bowl. It's the sixth bowl berth all-time for Georgia State. But the Panthers will be short-handed due to transfers and opt-outs. Running back Marcus Carroll (Missouri), WR Robert Lewis (Auburn), RT Montavious Cunningham (Virginia Tech) and CB Bryquice Brown (Boston College) have all transferred. Also opting out were LB Jontrey Hunter and LT Travis Glover, who aren't risking injury.

KEY MATCHUP

Does Georgia State want to be there? It was a miserable conclusion to the regular season for the Panthers, capped by a 25-24 loss to Old Dominion in the finale. Combined with the players moving on in the portal and others sitting out, the Panthers could be a shell of the team that started the season 5-1. That would seem to bode well for the Aggies, who are 2-2 in their last four bowl games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Utah State: QB Levi Williams will make the second start of his Utah State career, but it won't be his first time starting in the Idaho Potato Bowl. Williams started his college career at Wyoming and started for the Cowboys against Kent State in 2021, a game Wyoming won 52-38. Williams was 9 of 11 for 121 yards passing and rushed 16 times for 200 yards and four touchdowns and was the MVP of the game. Williams also started the 2019 Arizona Bowl for Wyoming and beat Georgia State in that game.

Georgia State: QB Darren Grainger will make his 36th career start at the Potato Bowl. Grainger became the first three-year starting QB in school history and is the school all-time leader in total offense and touchdown passes. Grainger threw for 2,364 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for another 625 yards and eight scores this season.

FACTS & FIGURES

Utah State coach Blake Anderson had a 38-18 conference record in the Sun Belt during his time as the head coach at Arkansas State. He was 5-1 vs. Georgia State in that time. ... Utah State LB MJ Tafisi ranked eighth in the country with 131 tackles this season and had double-digit tackles in eight straight games. ... Utah State is one of two teams in the country with two pass catchers with 10 or more touchdown catches this season. Jalen Royals has 14 and Terrell Vaughn has 10. ... Georgia State has played once previously in the state of Idaho. The Panthers played at Idaho in 2016 when the Vandals were part of the Sun Belt.

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