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Georgia State Panthers vs. Oregon Ducks Preview and Prediction

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A cupcake awaits Oregon to help mask the bitter taste of losing 31-28 at Michigan State upon the Ducks’ return to Autzen Stadium.

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The Ducks’ follow-up to playing national championship contender Michigan State is a paycheck game against Georgia State, the fledgling Sun Belt Conference team that just last week won its first-ever road game against an FBS opponent.

The Panthers outlasted fellow SBC cellar dweller New Mexico State to reach a significant milestone in the program’s brief existence. Georgia State’s first season was just five years ago.

Georgia State will one day score its first upset of a Top 25 opponent — just don’t count on that being this week at Oregon.

Georgia State at Oregon

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Oregon -45.5  

Three Things to Watch

1. Playing time for reserves  

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich should have ample opportunity to play his second-and-third-stringers Saturday. Georgia State is overmatched in every phase, so the Ducks starters should have no problem piling on in the first quarter and turning the reins over to the reserves before halftime.

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune depth ahead of the Pac-12 Conference opener. Oregon’s inexperience on the offensive line and secondary heading into the season were areas of concern, but Week 3 will give live reps to those in need of more game situations.

2. Vernon Adams’ finger

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Quarterback Vernon Adams played last week with a broken finger on his throwing hand. It may not be enough to hold the talented graduate transfer out of the lineup, but Saturday is a prime opportunity for Jeff Lockie to play.

“We don’t really talk about those kind of player availability things,” Helfrich said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference. “The best guy for us is going to be out there playing.”

If the plan is to have Adams at or near 100 percent for conference play, more snaps for Lockie may be the best solution.

3. Turnover creation

Oregon’s defense — and by extension, its offense — thrives with turnovers. The Ducks have ranked at or near the top of college football every season going back to 2010.

It’s early into the 2015 campaign, but Oregon is stuck near the middle of the pack nationally with three takeaways through two games. That should change Saturday.

Georgia State comes into Saturday’s affair with six turnovers, tied for third most in college football. Last season, the Panthers gave possession away 30 times.

Final Analysis

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in college football, but an Oregon win over Georgia State is as close as it gets.

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Panthers head coach Trent Miles took on a cumbersome task when he left Indiana State for this position in 2013. Georgia State is taking baby steps in its growth as a program, much as the Sycamores did in Miles’ tenure at Indiana State.

But, if the Washington teams on which Miles was an assistant last decade had little chance at Autzen Stadium, his current Georgia State bunch is really overmatched.

Prediction: Oregon 63, Georgia State 6

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.