In a game fans of both teams have eagerly awaited, Georgia State will play host to Georgia Southern in football on Oct. 25 at the Georgia Dome.
“Georgia Southern’s always difficult to play, it doesn’t matter what date you play them,” Georgia State coach Trent Miles said.
The Sun Belt Conference released the league’s team schedules Saturday.
The game between the Panthers and Eagles has been brewing since Georgia Southern announced it was joining the Sun Belt last year.
It will be a game of contrasts. The Panthers, winless last season, will be in their fifth season of football and second in the Sun Belt and the FBS level. The Eagles, winners of six national championships on the FCS level from 1985-2000, will be in their first season on the FBS level and will have a new coach, Willie Fritz. He replaced Jeff Monken, who left for the U.S. Military Academy.
Lastly, the eyes of the state could be on the game. Georgia is off that weekend and Georgia Tech will be at Pittsburgh. The Falcons will play Detroit in London on Oct. 26.
“It will be a good crowd no matter what because it will be Georgia Southern and Georgia State,” Miles said.
In addition to facing Georgia Southern and both of the Sun Belt’s co-champions, Georgia State faces a daunting schedule that includes non-conference games against two teams from BCS conferences and another that is traditionally difficult to prepare for.
Georgia State will open the conference schedule hosting New Mexico State on Sept. 6. The homes games include Sun Belt co-champ Arkansas State on Oct. 11 and the Eagles on Oct. 25. The Panthers won’t return home until they host Texas State on Nov. 29.
Conference road games are at co-champ Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 4, South Alabama on Oct. 18, Appalachian State, another conference newcomer, on Nov. 1, and Troy on Nov. 8.
The non-conference portion of the schedule already was known, but hasn’t gotten easier.
The Panthers will open the season playing host to Abilene Christian, formerly a Division II power that recently moved to FCS, on Aug. 27 in the first game of the season involving an FBS school.
They will host Air Force and its always-tough option offense Sept. 13, will travel to traditional Pac-12 power Washington with new coach Chris Petersen on Sept. 20 and will play at Orange Bowl champion Clemson on Nov. 22.
The latter portion of the schedule figures to be tough with three consecutive road games — to Boone, N.C., for the Mountaineers, Troy and Death Valley.
“Going to Clemson late in the year will be difficult on anybody,” Miles said. “They are in a division where they might be competing for a national championship. They are a very talented team.”