GEORGIA STATE (0-1) at TENNESSEE (1-0)

Georgia State faces its third FBS program and its second from the powerful Southeastern Conference in three years as the Panthers travel to Tennessee Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest at Neyland Stadium.

The Panthers (0-1) opened the season with a disappointing loss to South Carolina State, 33-6, last Thursday in the Georgia Dome, despite 120 yards rushing by Donald Russell.

The Volunteers (1-0) are coming off an impressive 35-21 win over NC State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, played last Friday in Georgia State's home venue, the Georgia Dome. UT quarterback Tyler Bray passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns on a 41-yard catch and a 67-yard run.

GAME COVERAGE

Televised on a pay-per-view basis. Announcers are Randy Smith (play-by-play), Jeff Francis (color analyst) and Rick Russo (sideline). The telecast is expected to be available in Georgia via ESPN Gameplan.

GSU Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship WCFO-AM Newstalk 1160 and WMLB-AM 1690 Announcers are Dave Cohen (play-by-play), Harper LeBel (analyst), and Sam Crenshaw (sideline).

CURRY VS. TENNESSEE

Georgia State is facing Tennessee for the first time, but GSU head coach Bill Curry has earned five victories against the Volunteers in his coaching career, including four straight from 1986-89 while coaching at Georgia Tech and Alabama. His overall record against the Volunteers is 5-11-1 in 17 seasons at Tech, Alabama and Kentucky.

As a player, Curry's Georgia Tech teams played the Vols from 1962-64, including wins in 1962 and 1963.

Curry also has a long history with Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. Not only did Curry compete against Derek's father, Vince Dooley, but Curry's son, Bill, was a teammate of Derek Dooley's at Virginia.

MORE CONNECTIONS

  • Georgia State has just one player from the state of Tennessee. Starting defensive tackle David Huey is a redshirt freshman from Antioch, Tenn., who attended Pearl-Cohn High School.
  • GSU has two transfers from Tennessee rival Kentucky in running back Donald Russell and defensive lineman Nermin Delic. Russell played against Tennessee in 2010 but did not carry the ball.
  • Tennessee graduate assistant Kyle Manley played quarterback at Georgia Tech and was a senior in 2007 when GSU offensive coordinator John Bond held the same position at Tech.

 

GSU VS. FBS

Georgia State's program is in its infancy, but the Panthers have not shied away from tough competition, playing an FBS team in each of its first two seasons. In the inaugural season of 2010, Georgia State played at defending national champion and 10th-ranked Alabama (l. 63-7), and last year the Panthers travelled to Houston (l. 56-0).

 

HONORS & RECORDS FOR PUNTER HUBBARD

Georgia State punter Matt Hubbard is garnering honors for his record-breaking performance in the Panthers' season opener.

The sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., has been named CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Week -- the first such honoree in GSU history -- and National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.

Hubbard averaged an eye-catching 62.2 yards on five punts against South Carolina State, easily the best single-game average in GSU history.

Hubbard's average is better than both the NCAA FBS and FCS single-game records for punting average in a game with a minimum of five punts. However, because Georgia State is in the process of reclassifying from FCS to FBS, marks achieved by GSU players during the 2012 and 2013 seasons do not count as NCAA records.

The current FCS record for punting average in a game, with a minimum of five punts, is 61.5 yards, set by Eddie Johnson of Idaho State versus Cal Poly in 2002. The FBS record of 60.4 is shared by two players, Lee Johnson, BYU vs. Wyoming, 1983, and Quinn Sharp of Oklahoma State vs. Nebraska, 2010.

Hubbard's third punt of the night travelled a school-record 80 yards, and he also had boots of 58, 59, 55 and 59 yards.

In 2011, the 6-4, 230-pounder averaged 41.9 yards per kick to rank 15th in the final NCAA FCS statistics.

 

THE DONALD

Running back Donald Russell opened his senior season by rushing for 120 yards on just 12 carries against South Carolina State, his second straight 100-yard effort and third in a GSU uniform. Last season, the transfer from Kentucky became the first 100-yard rusher in school history when he gained 136 yards against South Alabama. He added a career-high 146 yards in the 2011 finale against Campbell.

Against SCSU, Russell raced 52 yards on his first carry of the season. That is his longest run for the Panthers but not the longest of his career; he had a 79-yard scamper as a freshman at Kentucky in 2009. 

Russell led the Panthers with 665 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011.

 

WHAT IS THIS STUFF

Georgia State's game at Tennessee will mark just the third time in three seasons that the Panthers will play a game on natural grass. The first two games were also at FBS opponents with the 2010 game at Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium and the 2011 contest at Houston's Robertson Stadium.

 

IMPRESSIVE DEBUT FOR PETERSON

Joseph Peterson, a true freshman from Dothan, Ala., earned a starting berth at middle linebacker. In his debut against South Carolina State, he was the Panthers' second-leading tackler with eight hits, including a tackle for loss.

As a senior at Dothan High, Lockley was a first-team all-state in Class 6A by the Alabama Sportswriters Association. He made 112 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and four sacks. On offense, he ran for 669 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 

23 AND COUNTING

Junior right tackle Grant King, the only returning starter on Georgia State's offensive line, is also the only current player who has started all 23 games in the Panthers' brief history. The Columbia, S.C., native was a member of GSU's first recruiting class in 2009.

Three other Panthers have played in all 23 games: wide receiver Danny Williams and linebackers Akeen Felder and Robert Ferguson.

 

MR. CONSISTENCY

Georgia State has played 23 games in its history, and sophomore Danny Williams has caught at least one pass in every one of them. After two seasons, he has 87 career receptions for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns, all GSU career records.

Williams led GSU in receptions (54), receiving yards (649) and touchdown catches (5) during the inaugural season of 2010. Last season, he had 30 catches for 485 yards and two scores.

He also owns the Panthers' single-game record for receptions (11 vs. Old Dominion in 2010). He has four of the seven 100-yard games in GSU history.