The next chapter, perhaps the most challenging yet, comes Saturday when Georgia State (6-4, 3-4 Sun Belt), travels to play No. 15-ranked LSU (7-3, 5-2 SEC) at Tiger Stadium at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The game can be heard locally on WRAS-FM 88.5 or the GSU App.
“You know, last Saturday was tough because we had a tough defeat to Appalachian State, and I turn around and see that LSU put up 700 yards of offense against Florida,” Elliott said. “They seem to be playing well, so we look forward to making the trip down there. And if you’re going to play LSU, you want to play them on Saturday at 8 o’clock. That’s a great experience.”
Elliott said this LSU team is the best Power 5 opponent the Panthers have faced since his arrival, better even than the No. 5-ranked Penn State they played in Happy Valley.
“We’re going to go down there and give everything we’ve got,” Elliott said. “A couple of years ago they said we had a chance to schedule LSU. I said, ‘Shoot, put them on the schedule. Let’s go do this.’”
The challenge is huge for Georgia State, which has lost three consecutive – the past two against James Madison and Appalachian State by identical 42-14 scores. The Panthers are a 31-point underdog to LSU.
The Georgia State defense will have to deal with LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Jayden Daniels and an offense that leads the nation in total offense (560.2 yards), is second in scoring (45.9) and ranks fourth in rushing (223.9 yards) and passing (336.3).
Daniels, who set an SEC record with 606 yards of offense Saturday against Florida, has a pair of receivers who likely will be finalists for the Biletnikoff Award in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas.
“They may be the most potent offensive football team I’ve witnessed,” Elliott said. “Jayden Daniels is the best player in college football. I don’t think there’s any question about it. But you know we played Bo Nix (now at Oregon) at Auburn, and they benched him. So, we’re going to go down there and see what they’ve got. Hopefully we can get them to bench (Daniels), too.”
Georgia State’s offense has its own problems. Over the past three weeks, opponents have figured out how to defend quarterback Darren Grainger, who has thrown for a combined 349 yards during that time. Last week the Panthers turned it over three times, which won’t cut it against LSU.
“This is going to be the same group, the same high energy,” Grainger said. “This group is different. We handle adversity a little differently. The spirit is going to be high, and it’s up to the leaders to keep it that way.”
Georgia State has one Sun Belt Conference game remaining, at Old Dominion on Nov. 25. The Panthers are bowl eligible and await their bowl assignment.
“We’ve still got a lot to play for,” Elliott said. “That’s a good, positive group in our locker room right there, with some really good senior leadership and we’ll be ready to go. … It’s not all gloom and doom. We’re going to finish this thing the right way, and we’re going to fight our tails off and be as good as we can be.”