What You Need to Know:
* After ending the regular season with four straight wins, Georgia State earned its first bowl berth in just its sixth year of football and third at the FBS level.
* The Panthers will face Mountain West Conference foe San Jose State in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital, Dec. 19 in Orlando, Fla.
* The Panthers earned bowl eligibility with a 34-7 victory over in-state rival Georgia Southern Saturday.
ATLANTA -- Earning a bowl berth in just its sixth year of existence, the Georgia State football team will play in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital, Dec. 19 in Orlando, Fla. GSU will take on Mountain West Conference foe San Jose State in the 7 p.m. kickoff at Orlando Citrus Stadium, televised on CBS Sports Network.
The game directly supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF),
In a remarkable turnaround orchestrated by third-year head coach Trent Miles, the Panthers (6-6 overall, 5-3 Sun Belt/4th place) enter bowl season as one of the nation's hottest teams after winning four straight games and five on their last seven. During the current four-game streak, Georgia State is averaging 32.5 points and 511.2 yards of offense while allowing 14.25 points and 328 yards per game on defense.
“We are thrilled for our student-athletes as well as for our administration, our student body and our alumni and fans,” Miles said. “This is a great honor and reward for these young men and all the hard work they have put in, and it shows the direction our program is headed in such a short time.
“Orlando and the AutoNation Cure Bowl will be a great destination, and we’re looking forward to seeing to seeing a lot of Georgia State Blue there. This team is excited to have another chance to play together, and we’ll be ready to play a great game.”
The Panthers earned bowl eligibility with Saturday's 34-7 thrashing of in-state rival Georgia Southern, handing the Eagles their worst home loss ever.
Georgia State's record-setting quarterback Nick Arbuckle directs one of the nation's top passing attacks with 4,160 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. The senior signal caller is sixth in the nation with 346.7 yards per game, throwing to a talented cast of receivers in freshman Penny Hart, who leads the Sun Belt with 71 receptions for 1,095 yards and eight touchdowns, junior Robert Davis (60-979-6) and senior Donovan Harden (35-662-4). That trio rank 1-2-3 in the Sun Belt in receiving yards per game, and junior tight end Keith Rucker adds 39 receptions for 522 yards and six scores.
The Panthers stretch run has been fueled by a rapidly improving defense, led by senior linebacker Joseph Peterson and senior safety Tarris Batiste. Peterson is a four-year starter who ranks fourth among active FBS defenders with 371 career tackles, including a GSU-record 106 this year. Batiste, who had two interceptions in the bowl-clinching win over Georgia Southern, is the Panthers' career leader in interceptions (5) and tackles for loss (21.5).
San Jose State is 5-7 overall, 4-4 in the Mountain West but qualified for a bowl by virtue of its high Academic Progress Rate (APR). The two schools have never met in football.
The Panthers' bowl appearance will cap a remarkable year for Georgia State athletics, following the magical run by coach Ron Hunter's basketball team in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, including the second-round victory over Baylor on R.J. Hunter's buzzer-beating shot.
“After an exciting month of November for our program, everyone associated with Georgia State is excited to be going to the AutoNation Cure Bowl,” Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb said. “Coach Miles, his staff and all of the student-athletes deserve this great honor for their dedication to building our program on and off the field. They have worked hard all season long and this is the ultimate reward. We encourage all of our alumni, fans and students to join us in Orlando as we celebrate the first bowl game in program history.”
For tickets, visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call the Georgia State Ticket Office, which is open this Sunday from noon-5 p.m. Fans can also click on Bowl Central for bowl game information.