Utah State managed to finish the regular season 6-6 (4-4) and on selection Sunday found themselves in the Idaho Potato Bowl against Georgia State, who finished 5th place in the Sun Belt East division. The Panthers started the year strong at 6-1 (3-1) before entering a six-game slide and Georgia State has not won a game since October 21st on the road at Louisiana.
Location: Boise, Idaho
Date/Time: Saturday, December 23rd at 12:30 P.M.PST (1:30 Utah Time)
Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Streaming: The game can be streamed here.
Odds: Utah State (-1.5); Over/Under: 59.5 Provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Head-to-Head: This is the first time that Utah State and Georgia State have met. Utah State has played in 16 bowl games and is 6-10 overall. This years Idaho Potato Bowl will mark the 17th bowl game for the Aggies. Georgia State has played in 5 bowl games and has a 3-2 record with this year marking the program’s sixth bowl game.
Three keys to the game:
1. Play two halves
Utah State has not been a very good first-half team this season, something that will need to change against Georgia State. Utah State statistically is one of the worst first-quarter teams in the nation. One of the keys to winning this game is going to be how Utah State can their high turnover numbers. Levi Williams needs to be consistent in the passing game early on and take deep shots to Jaylen Royals and others when available. Williams would also benefit from making big plays in the running game, which is exactly what he did against New Mexico when he rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 198 yards and two touchdowns, finding Jaylen Royals for two touchdowns. For the offense to move effectively Utah State needs someone to step up in the running game, which is something the Aggies have struggled to do all year long. Consistency and balance will be key for this offense to run smoothly.
2. Stop the run
Utah State has struggled to stop the run this year and gave up 337 rushing yards to New Mexico. Georgia State has a running back who has rushed for over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns in Marcus Carroll. A good way for Utah State to stop the run will be to get Georgia State into third and long situations where running the ball is not an option. The problem is that Marcus Carroll is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and if he averages about the same against Utah State then Georgia State will be getting themselves into third and short situations. Utah State cannot commit to stopping the run, however, because Georgia State does have a quarterback who can throw and a reliable receiver in Robert Lewis. The Aggies must have good eye control and discipline to stop Marcus Carroll from having a massive day.
3. Limit the number of penalties
It is no surprise that Utah State has been one of the most penalized teams this year and in this game, it can hurt Utah State in two ways. The first way is that Utah State is going to get itself into positions where they are not able to move the ball. The second way is that Utah State could put Georgia State into a position where they could have offensive success. Without Cooper Legas, the Aggies need to be able to turn red-zone drives into points. Playing a full two halves is going to require a lot of discipline in not committing penalties.
This is a very important moment for the Aggies. They have just made it to another bowl game and they already have momentum with key pieces to the team returning next year. That momentum is only going to build if the Aggies are able to win this game against Georgia State. It would help to have Cooper Legas starting at quarterback, however, Levi Williams is more than capable of leading this team as a veteran. This game has the makings of being closer as Utah State struggles to stop Georgia State from running the football, but expect Levi Williams to find Jaylen Royals and use his legs to create big plays for Utah State. This is going to be very close but Utah State has playmakers and the momentum to carry the Aggies to victory.
Prediction: Utah State: 38, Georgia State: 33