Georgia State key: strong start

Georgia State needs a strong start to its season.

Panthers fans may be most excited that their team is playing at West Virginia and at Alabama. Those are big-money games whose highlights likely will be shown nationally, giving the program and the school free advertising, even if the final scores likely won’t be pretty.

However, the two important games of the season will be the first two games: against Samford and Tennessee-Chattanooga, both at the Georgia Dome.

The Panthers need wins for many reasons: Coming off last season’s 1-10 record, the players need reasons to believe in themselves and the new coaching staff. Students, alumni and other fans need reasons to believe that they should attend the games. Atlanta media need a reason to talk about the Panthers. Recruits need to see that this program is viable.

So, no pressure.

Georgia State’s schedule becomes much more difficult after the first two games, with the trips to Morgantown, W.Va., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., sandwiched around another home date against always tough Jacksonville State.

If the Panthers can’t pick up a win in one of the games against Samford, Tennessee-Chattanooga or Jacksonville State, their next best chance may not occur until the season finale against South Alabama.