ATLANTA--Coming off its best performance of the season, Georgia State will face its second nationally-ranked team in three weeks as the Panthers host Villanova for Homecoming Saturday at the Georgia Dome at 3:30 p.m.
While Georgia State (1-6) was earning a 41-7 victory at Rhode Island last Saturday, Villanova (5-2, 3-1 CAA) was equally impressive with a 38-14 victory at then third-ranked Old Dominion. With the win, Villanova moved into the Sports Network Top 25 at No. 24.
Georgia State head coach Bill Curry is pleased with the Panthers' performance but knows his squad must keep improving.
"We did some things better Saturday but I don't want to get too excited about that because we started out well and things kept going our way the whole game," said Curry at his weekly press conference. "It was a good game but this week is a lot more important as a test of what we've learned.
"It's a lot more fun to win. The guys were pleased in the locker room, but I'm glad that they weren't hysterical. We played the way we should have played and immediately after our focus turned to Villanova."
As for Villanova, Curry and the Tech coaches have been impressed with the Wildcats' quarterback, redshirt freshman John Robertson.
Against ODU, he rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns while passing for 151 yards and one score and was honored as the National Freshman of the Week by the Sports Network. He was also named CAA Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season.
For the season Robertson is completing 58 percent of his passes for 1,184 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. He is the team's second-leading rusher with 627 yards and eight scores, just behind running back Kevin Monangai with 661 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Wildcats rank eighth in the nation in rushing, averaging 258.6 yards per game.
Curry also praised the Wildcats' defense.
"Villanova's defense is unique," he said. "Technically, it's a 5-3. Their middle linebacker, Patrick Haggerty, is an excellent player, and their noseguard, Antoine Lewis, could play at the next level."
Cornerback Eric Loper is this week's CAA Defensive Player of the Week after grabbing an interception and a fumble recovery in the win over ODU.
Georgia State is led by the running of Donald Russell, who rushed for a school-record 201 yards in the win over Rhode Island to earn CAA Offensive Player of the Week honors. Russell now leads the CAA with 106.1 rushing yards per game.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ben McLane took another step forward against the Rams, completing 14 of 25 passes for a season-high 213 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. Adding his second-half performance one week earlier against New Hampshire, McLane is 24-for-44 for 382 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games.
"As he plays more, Ben is learning not to force things, so he is not turning the ball over," said Curry.
Top receiver Albert Wilson remains a favorite target, leading GSU with 30 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns, but tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi has emerged with eight catches for 116 yards in the last two games.
The Panthers enter the third Homecoming game in school history after winning their first two in overtime. In the inaugural season of 2010, GSU defeated North Carolina Central, 20-17, on Iain Vance's field goal. Then last year, Russell scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime as the Panthers outlasted South Alabama, 27-20.