AUTONATION CURE BOWL: GEORGIA STATE vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY
Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, 2:30 p.m., Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
TV: CBS Sports Network. Announcers are Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell.
RADIO: Georgia State Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship 680 The Fan/93.7 FM and WRAS 88.5 FM. Dave Cohen is in his 35th season as the play-by-play voice of Panther athletics. Harper LeBel joins him from the booth with Sam Crenshaw on the sideline. Free audio stream on GeorgiaStateSports.com and GSU mobile app.
RECORDS: Georgia State: 6-5 Overall, 5-3 Sun Belt (4th) \ WKU: 6-6 Overall, 4-4 CUSA (T-3rd East)
SERIES: WKU leads 1-0
LAST MEETING: WKU 44, GSU 28 (Nov. 2,
BOWL RECORD: 0-1
LAST BOWL: 2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl (San Jose State 27, Georgia State 16)
HEAD COACH SHAWN ELLIOTT
Record at GSU: 6-5 (1st year) / Career Record: 7-10 (2nd year)
THE KICKOFF: Earning their second bowl berth in three years, Georgia State will face Western Kentucky in the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
> Under first-year head coach Shawn Elliott, the Panthers (6-5, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) became bowl eligible with their Nov. 11 win at Texas State (despite losing a game to Hurricane Irma) and finished fourth in the Sun Belt.
> Georgia State’s eight-year-old football program is playing in its second bowl game in three seasons.
> The Panthers first bowl appearance was also in the AutoNation Cure Bowl as the Panthers fell 27-16 to San Jose State in the inaugural game in 2015. See page 6 for more details on that game.
> Five of Georgia State’s six victories this season have come on the road.
> Sophomore receiver Penny Hart is the Sun Belt’s leading receiver with a school-record 73 catches for 1,094 yards and eight touchdowns. He is eighth in the nation in receiving yards (99.5) per game and 12th in receptions per game (6.6).
> Senior quarterback Conner Manning is averaging 260.9 yards passing per game (third in the Sun Belt) with 13 touchdowns. He leads the league in completion percentage at 63.7 percent.
> Senior cornerback and Senior Bowl invitee Chandon Sullivan was one of 13 national finalists at all levels for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments® for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. The trophy recognizes the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
> Sullivan was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District® team for the third straight year. He is joined on this year’s team by junior offensive lineman Gabe Mobley and senior noseguard Julien Laurent. All three are now eligible for the CoSIDA Academic All-America® team.
HART HEADLINES NINE ON ALL-SUN BELT TEAM: Penny Hart, the leading receiver in the Sun Belt Conference and a first-team all-conference selection for the second time, headlines nine Panthers named to the All-Sun Belt Conference teams.
> Hart is just the second Panther to earn first-team All-Sun Belt honors twice, following receiver Robert Davis in 2015 and 2016.
> Joining Hart on the All-Sun Belt team are a quartet of third-team honorees in cornerback Chandon Sullivan, linebacker Michael Shaw, defensive lineman Marterious Allen and running back-receiver Glenn Smith, who was chosen as an all-purpose player.
> Quarterback Conner Manning, safety Bryan Williams, defensive lineman Julien Laurent and offensive guard Shamarious Gilmore were named honorable mention All-Sun Belt.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: Sophomore Penny Hart is enjoying a record-setting season and career for the Panthers:
> Hart is the Sun Belt’s leading receiver with 73 receptions for 1,094 yards and eight touchdowns.
> He ranks eighth in FBS in receiving yards (99.5 per game) and 12th in receptions (6.6 per game).
> He has already set a new GSU season record with 73 catches.
> With 1,094 yards this season, Hart is the first Panther to record two 1,000-yard seasons. He is 83 yards behind Albert Wilson’s GSU season record of 1,177 yards.
> After just 26 career games, Hart has amassed 152 receptions for 2,254 yards and 17 touchdowns. He ranks third in school history in all three categories, and the two receivers in front of him, Albert Wilson and Robert Davis, are in the NFL.
> Hart ranks fourth among all active FBS receivers with a career average of 5.96 receptions and fifth with 87.3 receiving yards per game.
> The 2015 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American played sparingly in just two games before his 2016 season was ended by a broken foot. As a rookie in 2015, Hart led the Sun Belt with 5.5 receptions and 84.5 receiving yards per game, and he set the Sun Belt freshman record for receiving yards (1,099).
ELLIOTT IN THE POSTSEASON: Although he is in his first bowl game as a head coach, Shawn Elliott is no stranger to bowl games and postseason success.
Formerly the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at South Carolina, Elliott helped the Gamecocks reach six bowl games in his seven seasons there (2010-16). That includes a pair of victories in Orlando’s Capital One Bowl (vs. Nebraska in the 2012 game and Wisconsin in the 2014 game), as well as wins in the 2013 Outback Bowl (vs. Michigan) and 2014 Independence Bowl (vs. Miami).
Before South Carolina, Elliott spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, his alma mater. He helped the Mountaineers to 10 appearances in the NCAA FCS playoffs, highlighted by three consecutive NCAA titles from 2005-07, along with two trips to the national semifinals and three appearances in the quarterfinals.
PANTHERS vs. WKU: Georgia State and Western Kentucky have met once before, a 44-28 victory for the Hilltoppers on Nov. 2,
> The only current Panther who played in that game was defensive end Mackendy Cheridor, who had three tackles as a true freshman.
> Five other current Panthers were on the roster: Kyler Neal, Bryan Williams, Trey Payne, Sebastian Willer and Daniel Zeigler.
> The teams have played one common opponent this season. GSU shut out Charlotte 28-0, while WKU downed the 49ers 45-14.
SULLY SHINES ON AND OFF THE FIELD: Senior cornerback Chandon Sullivan has collected accolades for his performance on the field and in the classroom:
> Sullivan is one of one of 13 national finalists at all levels for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments® for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. The trophy recognizes the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
> Majoring in journalism with a
> Sullivan recently earned an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the first Panther to be invited.
> He is a four-year starter, three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection and Georgia State’s career leader in interceptions (7) and passes defended (25).
SELECT COMPANY FOR SMITH: Senior Glenn Smith is one of just three active FBS players with at least 1,000 yards rushing, 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 return yards in their careers. The others are Phillip Lindsay of Colorado and Arkeel Newsome from Connecticut.
> Smith earned third-team All-Sun Belt honors as an all-purpose player. He ranks fourth in the league with 115.5 all-purpose yards per game. He is the Panthers’ leading rusher, No. 2 receiver and kickoff return specialist.
> Alternating between