A high Academic Progress Rate (APR) combined with bowl game vacancies extended the San Jose State Spartans’ (5-7) season into December. They face the Georgia State Panthers (6-6) for the schools’ first-ever meeting at the AutoNation Cure Bowl, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 19 in Orlando, Fla.
Cure Bowl: The basics
Site: Orlando Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.; capacity 60,219).
Time: 7:00 p.m. (Eastern)/4:00 p.m. (Pacific).
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming video: None.
Radio: 1590 KLIV (San Jose) and Spartan Radio Network affiliates: 860 KTRB (San Francisco); 1460/101.1 KION (Salinas/Monterey/Santa Cruz); 1280 KWSX (Stockton); 1360 KFIV (Modesto). SJSU student-run station 90.5 KSJS will produce its own broadcast.
Streaming audio: KLIV streams at www.kliv.com and the TuneIn app.KSJS streams at www.ksjs.org and TuneIn. KION streams at www.powertalk1460.com and the iHeartRadio app. For the Georgia State radio broadcast, listen to WIFN 1340 “The Fan 3” via www.atlantassportsstation.com or TuneIn.
Where did the bowl get its name? Proceeds from this game will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Georgia State: An overview
Georgia State University is a newcomer to college football, as its football program began play in 2010 and moved up to Division I FBS in 2013. Under third-year head coach Trent Miles, Georgia State could potentially have its first winning season in history with a win in this bowl game. Georgia State went 1-23 in 2013 and 2014. The one win was 38-37 over Division I FCS Abilene Christian on Aug. 27, 2014, in Abilene Christian’s second year in Division I after three decades in Division II. On Sept. 12, 2015, Georgia State won its first match over an FBS opponent by beating New Mexico State 34-32.
Following a 2-6 start that included a loss to FCS Liberty and facing elimination from bowl eligibility, Georgia State won four in a row to reach the requisite six wins for a bowl invite. (Because Georgia State’s APR is 940, Georgia State would not qualify for a bowl with a 5-7 record.) Most recently, Georgia State upset in-state rival and favorites Georgia Southern 34-7 on Dec. 5. Georgia Southern, then the FBS leaders in rushing yards per game at 375.6, could only rush for 135 yards against Georgia State.
Quarterback Nick Arbuckle, a junior college transfer from Los Angeles Pierce, has had a breakout senior season with 4,160 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. Similarly, in 2013, San Jose State’s David Fales passed for 4,189 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior. Georgia State’s offense relies heavily on the pass, with some running mixed in. The team averages just 3.2 yards per rush, and no running back has more than 360 rushing yards on the season.
“We have to do a good job on the back end of man-to-man coverage, because their quarterback has such good ball placement,” said San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher in his weekly press conference on Monday. “We also need to put pressure on the quarterback on the front end so he doesn’t have all day just to sit in the pocket and pick us apart.”
On defense, Georgia State has given up 179.8 rushing yards and 235.8 passing yards per game. Georgia State’s run defense ranks 76th in the FBS.
“Maybe not as big as some teams up front, but every bit as athletic as many good teams we played against. They do a very good job with movement, with slanting, angling, moving their people around,” commented Caragher about the Georgia State defensive line, which has 17 sacks on the season. In contrast, the Georgia State offensive line has given up 29 sacks.
Georgia State coach Trent Miles is aware of San Jose State’s challenges. In a press conference Tuesday, Miles said that San Jose State had a “very polished offensive line that works well together” and is “very athletic on defense” with “big corners.”
Who has the edges where
Competitiveness: San Jose State. Sagarin ranks SJSU’s strength of schedule 89th in Division I, while Georgia State’s schedule is ranked 129th. San Jose State has faced a higher caliber of opponent in conference play than Georgia State, as both MWC divisions have higher Sagarin rankings than the Sun Belt. However, anything can happen with Sun Belt teams. Earlier this season, South Alabama beat San Diego State 34-27 in overtime. San Diego State ended up winning the MWC championship game and West division, while South Alabama is staying home for December after finishing 5-7.
Home field advantage: Georgia State, as Orlando is closer to Atlanta than San Jose.
Stopping the run: Georgia State, because as poor as both teams’ run defenses are, San Jose State is far worse with a run defense ranked 108th (as opposed to Georgia State’s 76th).
Stopping the pass: San Jose State, whose pass defense efficiency is ranked 38th in FBS, five spots above Georgia State.
History and tradition: San Jose State, whose varsity football program dates back to 1893.