Western Kentucky lost a step this season after winning 31 games in three years under Jeff Brohm. That said, the Hilltoppers are back in a bowl game for the fourth straight year, and they’ll look to add the championship trophy from the AutoNation Cure Bowl on December 16 when they take on Georgia State.
Georgia State Bowl History
The Panthers have only been around in the top flight of college football for five seasons, and they’ve only earned a bowl trip one other time. They lost here at the Cure Bowl two seasons ago in their lone visit to a postseason showcase.
However, Georgia State is taking some major strides. The team is guaranteed to have its first non-losing season as a member of the FBS, and a victory in this game will give it its first winning season in its new division.
Western Kentucky Bowl History
The Hilltoppers didn’t win their first bowl game as members of the FBS until 2014. That said, since they had the taste of victory, they have kept their foot on the gas pedal.
Western Kentucky has won three straight bowl games: the Bahamas Bowl in 2014, the Miami Beach Bowl in 2015 and the Boca Raton Bowl in 2016. It’s back to the Sunshine State for a third straight December, and head coach Mike Sanford hopes to have similar success that his predecessor, Brohm, experienced.
Why Georgia State Will Win the Cure Bowl
GSU’s leading receiver, Penny Hart, has a foot injury that could keep him out of the Cure Bowl on Saturday. If he isn’t in the fold, the nation’s No. 31-ranked pass offense is going to be dinged dramatically.
However, these Panthers can play some ball on the defensive side. They ranked No. 46 in the nation against the run and consistently got better in that department as the year wore on.
Toss in the fact that Conner Manning was only picked off four times in 10 games that weren’t played against Penn State this year, and you’ve got the makings of a contest that could be won with defense.
Why Western Kentucky Will Win the Cure Bowl
Western Kentucky is being remembered a lot more for what it did over the course of the last three seasons than what it did this year. Mike White is back under center, but the majority of the rest of this team turned over from a campaign ago.
White, though, is reason enough to believe the Hilltoppers are set to win a fourth-straight bowl game. He led the nation’s ninth-ranked pass offense this year at 333.7 yards per game, and he’s thrown for at least 300 yards in seven straight contests.
The South Florida transfer knows what big boy college football is like, and this moment isn’t going to intimidate him. In fact, White was monstrous in last year’s Boca Raton Bowl, throwing for 336 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis.
Cure Bowl Prediction
For as good of an end of the season as Georgia State had, this team flat out didn’t beat anyone in 2017. Wins over Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Louisiana Monroe, Georgia Southern and Texas State don’t move our needle at all, and we think this is a huge mountain to climb to match wits with a middling Conference USA team that probably underachieved.
White is going to be the best player on the field, and all too often, the team that has the best player in these mid-major battles ends up winning the game — usually by a comfortable margin.
Cure Bowl Pick: Western Kentucky 48, Georgia State 27
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