Coach Shawn Elliott of the Georgia State Panthers reacts during their game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina Sate won 41-7. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Georgia State begins must-win four-game stretch against Texas State

Georgia State enters November –– and the last four games of the season –– with a must-win mentality as the Panthers need four wins to become bowl-eligible.  

A tough non-conference start to the season left the Panthers with just one win before starting an eight-game Sun Belt conference stretch. Georgia State (2-6, 1-3 Sun Belt) is now at the midway point of that eight-game stretch with just one win and three losses. 

“We have a high confidence right now,” wide receiver Penny Hart said. “The guys who are older, guys right now seniors and juniors, we’ve been in this situation before.”

The Panthers were in the same situation in 2015, heading into the final four regular-season games with a 2-6 record. Georgia State went on to win four consecutive games, including a 41-19 win over Texas State, to reach bowl eligibility. 

“We’ve got four games left, and those are four games to get bowl-eligible,” quarterback Dan Ellington said. “They (2015 Georgia State team) had to have a perfect November, and they won out and went to the Cure Bowl for the first time.”

Armed with knowledge that it has been done before, Georgia State turns its focus to the first of the four-game stretch, Texas State. The Bobcats rank third in the Sun Belt in total defense and pass defense, creating a tough environment for the Panthers’ offense.  

“They are real disciplined, well-coached, so that’ll be something we’re used to seeing out of defenses in this conference,” Hart said. “It’s about what we do, not necessarily about what anyone else does.”

Georgia State averages 245 passing yards and 209 rushing yards in conference games, while Texas State has held its past two Sun Belt opponents to an average of 87.5 passing yards and 196.5 rushing yards. However, Texas State has yet to defeat a Sun Belt opponent (2-6, 0-4) , while the Panthers are 1-3 in conference play. 

Although Georgia State lost a close conference battle to Coastal Carolina in its last game, the team improved on offense, including the offensive line and moving the ball on the ground. 

“We have to keep practicing hard,” coach Shawn Elliott said. “We can’t let this thing go south with us mentality-wise or it just turns to nothing. We’re gaining every single day on what we need to be gaining on.”

The Panthers look to run the table in November, starting with Texas State on Saturday, to ensure eligibility for a bowl game. The four-game stretch includes the Bobcats, Sun Belt West division leader Louisiana-Lafayette, Appalachian State, and East division leader Georgia Southern. 

“It’s encouragement at this point,” Elliott said. “It’s really giving our players a positive outlook on things, going out there and improving our football program, and really building something they can’t see at this point.” 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.