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Coastal Carolina vs. Georgia State Prediction: Chanticleers Look to Stay Undefeated Against the Hard-Luck Panthers

Sun Belt East teams open up conference play in a series that has been dominated by the road team.
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The Sun Belt will help get Week 4 of the college football season started when the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers take on the Georgia State Panthers on Thursday night. These East Division foes enter this game headed in opposite directions.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 4

Coastal Carolina (3-0) is one of the 33 FBS teams that remain undefeated following last weekend's 38-26 victory over Buffalo. Georgia State (0-3) is still looking for its first win after losing to Charlotte 42-41 on a last-second touchdown. The Panthers nearly upset North Carolina two weeks ago but came up short and now will try and hand the Chanticleers their first loss of the season.

Georgia State holds a slim 3-2 edge in the head-to-head series over Coastal Carolina. Each game has been won by the road team, including last season's 42-40 victory by the Panthers in Conway, South Carolina.

Coastal Carolina at Georgia State

Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Coastal Carolina -2.5
Tickets: As low as $4 on SITickets.com*

When Coastal Carolina Has the Ball

The Chanticleers' offense revolves around quarterback Grayson McCall, one of the best at the position in the nation. McCall is tied for the 10th in FBS with nine touchdown passes and just one interception in the early going. He's done this despite averaging a modest 24 pass attempts per game, which ranks 10th in the Sun Belt. McCall lost his three top targets from last season, including fourth-round pick and current Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely, but that hasn't impacted him too much to this point. Sam Pinckney is the leading receiver with 15 catches for 259 yards while fellow wide receiver Tyson Mobley has hauled in three touchdown passes.

On the ground, Coastal Carolina is averaging around 180 rushing yards per game. Reese White and CJ Beasley are splitting the running back work, with both averaging better than 5.8 yards per attempt. McCall is a threat to make things happen with his legs as well, and he's scored once on the ground.

One of the biggest reasons for Georgia State's 0-3 start is a defense that's giving up 37.3 points and 424.7 yards per game. Both of those rank second to last in the 14-team Sun Belt. Yes, the Panthers played North Carolina (who totaled 467 yards), but the bigger issue is the 501 yards they surrendered in last Saturday's loss to Charlotte. The 49ers' Chris Reynolds finished with 401 passing yards and five touchdowns in that game, and it's only going to get harder for Georgia State's defense with McCall up next. Cornerback Quavian White is tied for second in the country with three interceptions, and turnovers will be crucial if the Panthers want to keep the Chanticleers in check.

When Georgia State Has the Ball

The Panthers are among the top rushing teams in the country, averaging 231.3 yards per game (tied for 17th). Tucker Gregg has been the workhorse thus far with 52 carries, but quarterback Darren Grainger (4.5 ypc) and running back Jamyest Williams (4.7) are integral parts of the running game as well. The problem has been a lack of scoring on the ground with just three rushing touchdowns through three games. That ties Georgia State with Coastal Carolina (and Louisiana) for 10th in the Sun Belt. The difference between these two offenses lies in the passing attacks.

On paper, Grainger is similar to McCall in touchdown passes (8 vs. 9), but there's a large discrepancy in accuracy (51.7 percent vs. 70.4) and the Coastal Carolina signal-caller is much more likely to threaten a defense downfield. McCall is averaging more than 10 yards per pass attempt while Grainger is at 7.4. Jamari Thrash is second in the Sun Belt in receiving yards with 336 and Robert Lewis is tied for second with four touchdown catches (and both are averaging more than 17 yards per reception), but after them, the receiving production has been minimal outside of tight end Kris Byrd's three scores (has five total catches).

The Panthers also will need to throw the ball because the Chanticleers' defensive strength thus far has been in stopping the run. Coastal is holding teams to less than three yards per carry (2.8) and 103 rushing yards per game. This includes a season-opening game against Army, currently the No. 3 rushing attack in the nation. The Black Knights went for 202 yards on the ground, well below their season average (285), in the Chanticleers' 38-28 victory; while FCS Gardner-Webb and Buffalo combined for 106 rushing yards total. Not surprisingly, those two teams had a little more success through the air, but Coastal has recorded as many interceptions as touchdown passes allowed (five each). The Chants also are tied for the Sun Belt lead with 10 sacks in three games.

Final Analysis

Georgia State's 0-3 record doesn't tell the whole story, but it's also easy to pick out reasons for it. The Panthers are having a hard time stopping teams with their pass defense really breaking down last week. That's not a good sign entering a game against Coastal Carolina and one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country. Grayson McCall can beat teams with his arm or his legs and he has plenty of help in the backfield too. The road team has won every game in this series, and given Georgia State's issues on defense, there's no reason to expect that to change on Thursday night.

Prediction: Coastal Carolina 35, Georgia State 31

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