Time and Date: 2:30PM ET on December 25, 2021
Broadcast Network: ESPN
Location: Cramton Bowl in Mobile, AL
Spread: Georgia State (-5.5), per DraftKings*
Point Total: 51 per DraftKings*
ESPN FPI: Georgia State 56%
All-Time Series: Tied at 1-1
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
For these two squads, the storyline of the game is different for each but really pretty similar. Georgia State, still a young program, is looking for its first eight-win season in its nine-year history. For the Ball State Cardinals, this could be the second straight bowl win for a program that until recently was 0-7 in the postseason. No matter which team walks out of this game with a win, it’s positive and significant momentum for a team that desperately needs any and all advantages to compete for recruits, eyes, and respect.
Georgia State comes in at 7-5, a deceptive record given the strength of schedule for the Panthers, who played four road games against ranked opponents, the only FBS team to do so. They have also won 6 of their last 7 outings, with the loss to ranked Lousiana on a Thursday night road contest. The Panthers are battle-tested and talented.
The Cardinals come in at 6-6, and if most fans are being honest, are sort of surprising to be here given how the season has played out. Sure, at the conclusion of 2020, with a conference title and the program’s first bowl win, most Cardinal faithful expected a banner year for BSU. It wasn’t that exactly as the Cards were up and down for the season, winning the season opener, then losing three straight, then winning three straight, The Cardinals limped home, losing three of their final five, but 6-6 is still .500. I remember a few years ago when a .500 season seemed completely and utterly fantasy and now fans are disappointed and grumbling. Well, well, well, how the turntables.
The matchup that decides the game is the Cardinal offense versus the Panther defense. If Georgia State can create turnovers and limit big plays and points, they win easily. If Ball State performs more like the 2020 Cardinals and not the 2021 version that seemingly struggles at time to even break 20, then they win easily. It seems simple, and it is. There’s no need to overcomplicate it.
Now, something to keep in mind is I was a Ball State Cardinal long before I was the head man around the Belt. Hell, I was making my internet bones while most of our current staff members were still in junior high. So, it is hard for me to give an accurate and unbiased look at Ball State and any opponent. Take my predictions, gambling picks, and really, any commentary in general with a grain of salt and an understanding of my Cardinal-tinted glasses.
Ball State 24
Georgia State 35