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Tailgate Tattler: Our time has come

Get ready for the first GSU v. GSU showdown


October 21, 2014

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    On April 17, 2008, Georgia State University announced that it would begin a football program. Since that day, Georgia Southern fans have wanted a piece of the “other GSU” on the football field. And now that time has come.
    The Panthers’ inaugural football game was played on Sept. 4, 2010, in the Georgia Dome. They won that game over Shorter College by a score of 41-7. The Panthers would finish the 2010 season with a record of 6-5, which — putting all trash talk aside — is pretty good for any startup program in its first season.
    Since then, they are 5-36. Not so good. Those five wins have come over powerhouse programs in Clark Atlanta, South Alabama, Campbell, Rhode Island and Abilene Christian. Since moving to the FBS in 2013, they have three losses to FCS teams and zero wins over FBS competition. Ouch.
    Starting a football program from scratch is no easy task. Doing so with success despite very little support from students and alumni is nearly impossible. And Georgia State is learning both of those lessons the hard way as attendance has struggled. They are averaging 11,824 per home game this season. I’ve seen some of their crowds — they must be counting everyone who happens to be anywhere within several hundred yards of the dome on gamedays as a part of those attendance numbers. That place has been depressingly empty.
    Getting people to show up for the game shouldn’t be an issue this Saturday when Georgia Southern comes to town. Unfortunately for State, Eagle fans will likely make up an overwhelming majority of the crowd.
    Not only will this feel and sound like a home game for Georgia Southern, it will look like one too. Southern fans are planning to “white out” the Georgia Dome. So, for Eagle fans making the trip (and I highly encourage you to find a way to Atlanta for this one), make sure to wear white.
    I can’t say I have ever heard of a visiting team doing something like this, but it is a tremendous display of the support Southern has in the Atlanta area. Eagle Nation travels well anyway, but when you have the number of students and alumni from Atlanta that Georgia Southern does, it makes this a pretty easy trip for a whole pile of us. Just ask Georgia Tech.
    As for the game on the field, Georgia Southern is coming off a bye week which came at a good time for the Eagles. Southern had played in seven consecutive weeks, so the team probably needed a mental and physical break and will hopefully be hungry to get back on the field. And it never hurts to have two weeks to prepare for an opponent—  especially when you know emotions will be running high on both sidelines.
    Georgia State traveled to South Alabama last week and lost a 30-27 heartbreaker to the Jaguars. The Panthers’ record isn’t pretty, but they have been competitive in nearly every game this season. They held a 14-0 halftime lead at Washington before the Huskies stormed back in the second half to win 45-14. The only other lopsided loss for State was a 52-10 blowout at the hands of a pretty doggone good Arkansas State squad.
    The Panthers can score points. They are averaging 27 points per game and have put up at least that many in five of their seven contests. Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle is a gunslinger. Honestly, their passing attack has me a bit concerned as the Panthers average over 300 yards per game through the air.
    Many Georgia Southern fans are hoping — and expecting — to win this game in blowout fashion. As much as I would love to see that, I think it’s going to be a little closer than Eagle fans would like. State has taken some pretty good teams down to the wire. Just ask Lousiana-Lafayette and South Alabama.
    Tattler Prediction: State will move the ball and put up some points, but they won’t be able to stop Georgia Southern.
    Eagles 45, Panthers 27
    This is the first installment of what should become a very heated, very intense rivalry.
    We’ll see you at the dome, Eagle Nation!


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