November 25, 2017 - Atlanta, Ga: Georgia State Panthers quarterback Conner Manning (7) attempts a pass as offensive tackle Sebastian Willer (74) blocks Appalachian State Mountaineers defensive lineman Tommy Dawkins (91) in the second half of their game at GSU Stadium Saturday, November 25, 2017, in Atlanta. Appalachian State Mountaineers won 31-10. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

What to know about the Panthers, Hilltoppers in 2017 Cure Bowl

For the second time in three years, the Panthers are bowl-bound in Orlando.

Georgia State will face Western Kentucky in the Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Saturday. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS and CBSSN Live. The Panthers are six-point favorites.

There have been 18,700 tickets distributed for the game as of Tuesday, according to Cure Bowl public relations. Each team was allotted 5,000 tickets. 

The Panthers’ lone other bowl appearance in their five-year existence came in the inaugural 2015 Cure Bowl, when they lost to San Jose State 27-16 to finish 6-6. The team was 1-23 in the two seasons prior. 

Western Kentucky is led by first-year coach Mike Sanford. It’s the fourth consecutive year the Hilltoppers have qualitied for a bowl, the last three of which they won.

The Hilltoppers lost four of their last five games after a four-game winning streak. The Panthers lost their first two games, enjoyed a 6-1 stretch, then dropped their final two. They won five road games, tied for second most in the FBS. 

The Panthers were the last team to allow an individual 100-yard rusher, doing so in both of their recent losses to Appalachian State and Idaho. Perhaps they’ll have less to worry about Saturday against WKU, the nation’s worst rushing offense (129th).

GSU is 6-5, while WKU is 6-6. The Panthers played one less game after Memphis was forced to cancel due to a scheduling conflict caused by Hurricane Irma. 

Arkansas State won last year’s Cure Bowl over UCF, 31-13. It’s still the Knights’ most recent loss.

The Cure Bowl was named to promote awareness and research of breast cancer, with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The game is intended to put the Sun Belt against the AAC, as long as each conference has a team eligible.