Two six win teams will meet up in the 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl. Georgia State and Western Kentucky will square off at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The winner gets to finish above .500. Here is how the teams stack up:
Western Kentucky HIlltoppers (6-6)
Western Kentucky has been a solid program for years now and have reached their fourth straight bowl game. This team though, isn’t as good as some of the teams in previous years. They have six wins, but failed to beat a team that finished above .500 on the season.
The calling card of this team is the passing game. Mike White has 3,826 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has helped the Hilltoppers rank ninth in the country in passing yards per game, averaging 333.7. White has thrown for over 10,000 yards in his career and can air it out with the best of them. They have seven receivers with over 200 yards receiving, but Nacarius Fant leads all receivers with 634 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, they haven’t been able to get anything going on the ground this season. As a team they have fewer than 800 yards on the season. There are players who have almost triple that amount on their own. Part of this is by design, as WKU likes to pass a lot, but the running backs aren’t making the most of their opportunities when they do get carries.
The Hilltoppers have a below average scoring defense that allows 26.8 points per game. While they are an average run defending team, they are actually better at stopping the pass. Joel Iyiegbuniwe will lead the defense from his linebacker position. He helps stop the run and will need to have a big game for Western Kentucky to win.
Georgia State Panthers (6-5)
Georgia State had a game cancelled against Memphis, but they were still able to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. The Panthers were not able to beat a team that was bowl eligible this season, but will take their chances in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.
Senior Conner Manning has been a two year starter and has raised his level of efficiency at the quarterback position this season. He has 2,870 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Manning is a pocket passer, that does a good job of hitting his favorite target, Penny Hart. Hart is a premier talent that has 1,098 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
The passing offense is good, but the rushing offense is bad, much like Western Kentucky. They rank 117th in the country in rushing yards per game. Glenn Smith is the leading rusher with 522 yards on the ground. The running game won’t be a big factor in this game.
The defense is above average and allows 25.5 points per game. Georgia State is better at defending the run than the pass, which will likely be an issue in this game. Four year starter Chandon Sullivan can have a big impact on the game from his corner position. He is the program’s all time leader in interceptions and if he can get one or two more in this game, the Panthers can win.
Mike White and the Hilltopper offense are going to be tough to stop. White will light up the Georgia State defense, while the Western Kentucky defense will do just enough to win the game.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 42 Georgia State 31
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