ATLANTA--Georgia State (1-8) will face its fourth ranked team in five weeks as the Panthers host No. 5-ranked Old Dominion (7-1, 4-1 CAA) in their final home game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.
Playing at No. 9/10 James Madison last Saturday, GSU rallied for two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes before falling to the Dukes, 28-21.
Old Dominion, ranked No. 5 by in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls this week, defeated No. 20/16 Delaware, 31-26. The Monarchs lead all FCS schools in scoring offense (44.63) and total offense (565.5) and rank third in passing offense (400.4). Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, an Atlanta native (Collins Hill HS), leads the nation in total offense at 436.3 yards a game.
Old Dominion becomes the first opponent that Georgia State will face for the third time in its brief history. The Monarchs won the first two meetings, 34-20 in 2010 in Norfolk, and 40-17 in last year's game, also played at the Georgia Dome.
Both schools will move to FBS conferences next season, with Georgia State going to the Sun Belt Conference and Old Dominion to Conference USA.
GSU Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship WCFO-AM Newstalk 1160. Announcers are Dave Cohen (play-by-play), Harper LeBel (analyst), and Sam Crenshaw (sideline).
Saturday's game is the final home game for Georgia State head coach Bill Curry, who announced during preseason camp that the 2012 season will be his last on the sideline.
Curry was named GSU's first head coach on June 12, 2008 and has guided the program through its infancy. The former head coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky is in his 20th season as a collegiate head coach. He will remain at Georgia State as a special assistant to Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick and President Mark Becker.
The Old Dominion game is the final home appearance for 11 Georgia State seniors who will be honored in pregame ceremonies. The group of 11 seniors includes four who have been with the GSU program since the first team reported for practice in August 2009: Kam Cheatham, Akeen Felder, Emmanuel Ogbuehi and Rosevelt Watson. Malcolm Smith joined the team later that year, while Gabe Hampton, Joshua Jackson, Mitchell Vinson were added in 2010. Donald Russell, D'Mario Gunn and Demazio Skelton enrolled for the 2011 season.
Senior tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi (pronounced oh-BOY-ee) is enjoying the most productive stretch of his career with 18 catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns over the last four games. He is the Panthers' second-leading receiver on the season with 22 catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
Against James Madison, Ogbuehi had a career-best six receptions and fueled a GSU comeback with a remarkable fourth quarter. He started a scoring drive with a 17-yard run and then capped it with a five-yard touchdown reception. Then, with GSU trailing 28-14, he raced 54 yards on a fake punt down to the 10-yard line, setting up a touchdown that pulled the Panthers within 28-21.
Ogbuehi began this stretch against New Hampshire when he caught four passes for 76 yards, highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ben McLane.
The 6-3, 235-pounder added four catches for 40 yards in the win over Rhode Island, and then four more receptions for 18 yards with a three-yard touchdown against Villanova.
Ogbuehi is the fourth-leading receiver in GSU history with 44 career catches for 473 yards and four touchdowns, including the first touchdown reception in the Panthers' inaugural game in 2010.
EVANS, WATSON STEP INTO BACKFIELD
With top rusher Donald Russell out for the season, veteran running backs Travis Evans and Rosevelt Watson have stepped up for the Panthers.
Evans, a junior, rushed for a career-high 98 yards on 18 carries against JMU, along with three receptions for 23 yards. He is the third-leading rusher in GSU history with 931 career yards.
Watson, a senior, scored the first touchdown of his career on a two-yard run. He also threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Ogbuehi after taking a direct snap in a wildcat formation. That is the second career touchdown pass for Watson, who also threw a 39-yard TD pass in 2010.
Wide receiver and return specialist Albert Wilson set a Georgia State record with 290 all-purpose yards against Villanova. He caught six passes for 104 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown catch, for the sixth 100-yard game of his career. He added five kickoff returns for 176 yards, highlighted by a season-long 61-yard return, and one punt return for 10 yards.
The junior from Port St. Lucie, Fla., leads the CAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 149.9 yards per game, a figure that would rank among the top 20 in FCS.
Wilson is the Panthers' leading receiver with 39 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns. He also averages 11.0 yards on punt returns and 22.8 yards on kickoff returns.
For his career, Wilson has a GSU-record 3,491 all-purpose yards (124.7 per game) and 15 touchdowns.
INJURIES TAKE THEIR TOLL
Standout running back Donald Russell, who was leading the CAA in rushing, sustained a knee injury (sprained MCL) early in the game against Villanova and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Russell rushed for 747 yards (81 percent of GSU's rushing total) and three touchdowns while catching 16 passes for 163 yards and one score. He is the leading rusher in GSU history with 1,412 yards.
With the loss of Russell, the GSU offense is without two of its top four skill players. Starting wide receiver Jordan Giles, the Panthers' third-leading receiver the last two years behind Albert Wilson and Danny Williams, has been out since game two with a shoulder injury. Williams has been hampered much of the season by an ankle injury.
The Panthers have also sustained key injuries on defense, particularly on the defensive line, including a season-ending injury to starting defensive tackle David Huey after just two games. Starting defensive end C.J. Stephens and top backups Melvin King (DE) and Joe Lockley (DT) are also out. Redshirt freshman McClain Head, expected to be a key contributor at defensive end, has not played at all due to a concussion.
The Panthers have been so decimated on the defensive line that sophomore tight end Drew Pearson played both ways against James Madison, lining up at defensive end in addition to his reps on offense.