The bowl system as a whole has been taking a beating leading up to December 19, the kickoff to bowl mania. Many critics have said there were too many bowls, leading to a lack of quality teams. Some could argue that, since the system struggled to provide the bare minimum (you must have 6 wins to qualify). The inaugural Cure Bowl provided one of the few exceptions.
Georgia State qualified for their first bowl in program history with a (6-6) record, and impressed with four-straight wins to end their regular season.
San Jose State was one of three sub .500 teams (5-7) to make it into a bowl game (good grades pushed them over the hump). But when it comes to the opportunity to play in a game for a good cause, who would argue with that?
The AutoNation Cure Bowl is more than a game. It’s a celebration of the women who are living with breast cancer today and those who will face it tomorrow. But more than that, it’s a rally cry to the world to raise awareness and help bring an end to this deadly disease once and for all.
Funds raised from the AutoNation Cure Bowl will directly benefit the nation’s highest rated breast cancer organization, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, whose mission is committed to exclusively funding cancer research.
This season’s success is the exact reason why the Georgia State Panthers brought in Head Coach Trent Miles. After two struggling seasons, his Panthers, led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle have made a world of difference in improving the program.
Some may complain about the amount of schools participating in bowls this go-round, but which of those schools are complaining about the money? I don’t hear any, especially since these two smaller, state schools were battling not just for the inaugural trophy, but the $1.35 million payout. More impressive than that, donations came in by the truckload to the BCRF which is was the whole purpose of the bowl. Acknowledging that cancer is something that impacts all of us, players and coaches alike took time pre-game, post-game, and during commercials to explain why this game was so important to them; citing loved ones who have and are being affected by this disease.
The biggest stat that stood out as to why the Panthers were ineffective was the running game. Their leading rusher Glenn Smith could only notch 22 yards on the ground. Compare that to San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin who carried the ball 3o times for 132 yards and you’ll see the major disparity in the two squads.
The Panthers passing game was a different story. The distribution was pretty even between wide receivers Ari Werts, Todd Boyd, and Donovan Harden, all of whom had three receptions. It was Penn Hart who only had one catch which was baffling as he’s been a standout all-season (in receiving and all-purpose yards).
San Jose State quarterback Kenny Potter can end the season with a smile as he willed his sub-.500 program to a win and a first ever Cure Bowl victory. He rushed for 69 yards and threw for 89 yards, scoring a touchdown in each category. Fellow Spartan Tyler Ervin averaged 4.4 yards a carry and will definitely be on the radar of NFL scouts.
The Panthers can return to Georgia with their heads held high. I remember watching a program that had 3 wins in combined seasons. Fast forward and Miles’ group fight to win four-straight games and end the regular season demolishing rival Georgia Southern in the process.
Even with the victory, the Spartans end their year at (6-7) and will surely catch flack because of it. Georgia State ends their campaign with the same record but their sixth win came during the regular season. Bowl qualification is not only a great opportunity for smaller schools, but it’s a great sendoff for seniors and a great platform to showcase the talent these smaller schools provide (since they’re often overshadowed by larger schools in larger conferences).
Anyone who missed this game missed a great match. There were plenty of hits (along with injuries) and you could see the fight in the players on every play. It’s a great accomplishment for both programs and I look forward to what Trent Miles can bring next season.