Who says 5-7 teams shouldn’t play in bowl games? San Jose State, the first of three 5-7 teams to play this postseason, knocked off Georgia State, 27-16, in Saturday’s inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl and spoiled the Panthers’ first-ever appearance in a bowl game.
What the win means for San Jose State: Some will argue that there are too many bowl games, and that the Spartans should have never played in one. But don’t tell them that. From the pregame pep rally to the celebration as the game ended, this San Jose State team was as excited as anybody to be playing another game. Star running back Tyler Ervin and the rest of this senior class can end their careers as Cure Bowl champs.
What the loss means for Georgia State: It was a fantastic run for Georgia State, winning four straight games down the stretch to become bowl eligible. But unlike fellow bowl newcomer Appalachian State, who won earlier in the day, the Panthers could not bring home a victory in their bowl debut. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle, the Sun Belt’s leading passer, threw two touchdowns but struggled most of the night, and wide receiver Penny Hart, the Sun Belt freshman of the year, finished with only one catch for 14 yards.
Play of the game: Is anybody surprised that Ervin made the play of the game? Ervin, a potential NFL talent, rushed for 132 yards on 30 carries Saturday night. But his best play came midway through the third quarter when he returned a punt 85 yards to put the Spartans up 10-0. Ervin started right, weaved his way through traffic and broke about five tackles on his way to the end zone. It was Ervin’s fifth career return touchdown and second on a punt return.
Best moment: Does it get any better than San Jose State’s defenders surrounding defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and celebrating with him in the final seconds of Saturday’s win? Robinson, who coached over 10 years in the NFL and made collegiate stops at both Michigan and Texas, announced his intentions to retire one day before the bowl game. His defense made sure he went out on a high note. The Spartans held Georgia State to 16 points and 231 total yards.