GEORGIA STATE (4-3, 3-1) at GEORGIA SOUTHERN (0-7, 0-3)
Saturday, Nov. 4, 3 p.m. ET, Allen E. Paulson Stadium
TV: ESPN3. Announcers are Matt Stewart and Tyoka Jackson.
RADIO: Georgia State Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship 1340 AM/103.7 FM. Dave Cohen is in his 35th season as the play-by-play voice of Panther athletics. Brandon Leak and Harper LeBel join him from the booth with Sam Crenshaw on the sideline. Free audio stream on GeorgiaStateSports.com and GSU mobile app.
Georgia State: Shawn Elliott
Record at GSU: 4-3 (1st year) / Career Record: 5-8 (2nd year)
Georgia Southern: Chad Lunsford (interim)
Record at GS: 0-1 (1st year) / Career Record: 0-1 (1st year)
THE KICKOFF: Winners of four of the last five games, Georgia State plays at in-state rival Georgia Southern Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN3. After knocking off South Alabama 21-13 last Thurday, the Panthers (4-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) trail only undefeated Arkansas State (4-0) and Appalachian State (4-0) in the Sun Belt standings.
> Sophomore receiver Penny Hart leads the Sun Belt with 7.6 receptions per game (8th in FBS), 97.7 receiving yards per game (11th in FBS) and seven touchdowns (12th in FBS).
> Senior quarterback Conner Manning is averaging 244.4 yards passing per game with nine touchdowns. He leads the Sun Belt in completion percentage at 64.8 percent.
> Sixth-year senior safety Bryan Williams is the Panthers’ top tackler (39) and leads the Sun Belt with four interceptions (tied for third in the nation at 0.6 per game).
> Junior outside linebacker Michael Shaw leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss, and he is the Panthers’ career leader with 24.5.
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: The Georgia State defense set a school record by holding South Alabama to a net of 41 yards rushing in the Panthers’ 21-13 victory. South Alabama running back Xavier Johnson is the Jags’ career rushing leader and entered the game averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 64 yards per game, but GSU held him to minus-3 yards. T The Panthers limited South Alabama to 338 total yards, 70 of them coming on USA’s late touchdown. In addition to interceptions by Bryan Williams and Cedric Stone, the Panthers broke up seven passes, including two each by Jerome Smith and B.J. Clay, and collected six tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
ROAD WARRIORS: Georgia State is the only FBS school this season to play four straight road games and the only one to win three straight road games (with no home games in between). Due to the Memphis cancellation, the Panthers went 51 days between home games (from Aug. 31 to Oct. 21). Now, after playing two home games in six days, Georgia State has another four weeks away from home before finishing the season with two straight game at Georgia State Stadium.
SERIES VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN:
> Georgia State has won the last two meetings to take a 2-1 lead in the series, which began in 2014.
> In 2016, in its last game at the Georgia Dome, Georgia State won its second straight over Georgia Southern with a 30-24 win. Conner Manning passed for 318 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and Glenn Smith scored touchdowns rushing and receiving. Manning hit eight of his first 10 passes to lead touchdown drives on the Panthers’ first three possessions for a 20-0 lead.
> In 2015, Georgia State recorded a record-setting and bowl-clinching 34-7 victory in Statesboro. The Panthers handed Georgia Southern their worst home loss ever as the GSU defense limited the Eagles to 135 yards rushing and a school-record 203 yards of total offense. After a 7-7 first half, the Panthers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half. Penny Hart had six catches for 119 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown. Glenn Smith rushed for 83 yards, and Kyler Neal ran for two touchdowns.
> GSU head coach Shawn Elliott is very familiar with Georgia Southern interim coach Chad Lunsford. Lunsford spent two seasons (2001-02) as the tight ends coach at Appalachian State while Elliott was the offensive line coach.
RIVALRY SERIES: In-state and Sun Belt Conference rivals Georgia State and Georgia Southern compete in an annual all-sports challenge called the Rivalry Series. Georgia State has captured the first two Rivalry Series trophies in 2015 and 2016, and the Panthers currently lead 2.5-0.5 in 2017-18.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: Sophomore Penny Hart was named to the Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the outstanding receiver in college football.
> 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).
> Hart is again leading the Sun Belt with 7.6 receptions and 97.9 yards per game and seven touchdowns.
> He has accounted for 36 percent of the Panthers receptions (53) and 38 percent of the receiving yards (685) this season while catching seven of the team’s 10 TD passes.
> After just 22 career games, Hart has amassed 131 receptions for 1,845 yards and 16 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 6.0 receptions per game.
MAKING HISTORY: Safety Bryan Williams now owns a share of the Georgia State records for interceptions in a game (2), season (4)and career (6).
> Williams grabbed this fourth interception of the season and sixth of his career on the second play of the game against South Alabama and returned it to the 8-yard line to set up a touchdown. He tied both the GSU season and career marks with that pick.
> That was the second straight game in which he intercepted a pass on the game’s opening possession to set up a score.
> He tied the single-game record by grabbing two interceptions, both in the end zone, in the 28-0 shutout at Charlotte.
> Williams also made history this season as the first Panther to play a sixth season. The Miami, Fla., native began his GSU career in 2012 under head coach Bill Curry. He was granted a sixth season of eligibility after missing almost two full seasons (2013 and 2014) with a back injury.
> Williams’ older brother, Arthur, was a tight end for the Panthers in their first two seasons (2010-11), meaning that Georgia State has never played a football game without one of the Williams brothers on the roster.