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Georgia State vs. Ball State Odds, Picks & Predictions: 2021 Camellia Bowl College Football Betting Preview

Georgia State vs. Ball State Odds, Picks & Predictions: 2021 Camellia Bowl College Football Betting Preview article feature image

Austin McAfee and James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Georgia State running back Jamyest Williams (21) and Ball State wide receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler (6).

Georgia State vs. Ball State Odds

Saturday, 12/25
2:30 p.m. ET
Georgia State Odds
-110o / -110u
Ball State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Camellia Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 25 · Montgomery, AL

All I want for Christmas is football, and this year, we’ve been gifted with the Camellia Bowl as Georgia State meets Ball State in Montgomery, Alabama.

Georgia State finished the season with a 7-5 overall record, but there’s no denying the Panthers’ improvements during the second half of the season. The group won six of its final seven games with a near upset over eventual Sun Belt champion Louisiana.

Shawn Elliott’s program also had Auburn on the ropes with a minute remaining before letting that game slip away.

The Panthers upset Coastal Carolina in the final month of the season and have seen their stock trend upward since early October.

They match up against Ball State, which snuck into bowl eligibility the final week of the season with its victory over Buffalo. It was a relatively disappointing season for the Cardinals, who won the MAC Championship last season after finishing 7-1.

Quarterback Drew Plitt and the passing attack saw a serious decline throughout this year. Ball State will need to show flashes of the 2020 offense if it wants to stay competitive against Georgia State in this matchup.

Georgia State Panthers

Elliott deserves extra praise this season for keeping the program motivated after starting out 1-4. He made a tough decision to bench quarterback Cornelious Brown after just three weeks. The offense then thrived, averaging 32.5 points per game with Darren Grainger under center.

Georgia State’s offense is spearheaded by its running game that averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The Panthers owned a rush rate of 65% behind the two-headed monster of Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams. Each ran for 800 yards this season and punched in nine touchdowns. Tucker put up 5.1 yards per carry, while Williams averaged 6.8.

The tandem forced 59 missed tackles and averaged three yards after contact. The Panthers’ rushing attack should have a big day on the ground against a Ball State defense that allows nearly 180 rushing yards per contest.

Elliott’s defense opened the season allowing 38 points per game through its 1-4 start. Over the final seven games, however, it allowed only 20 per contest. In that span, Georgia State gave up just 120 rushing yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry.

The front seven was dominant this year, accounting for an average of seven tackles for loss per game.

The defense forced 10 interceptions to go along with nine fumbles on the season and should have its way against a Ball State offense that has been lackluster all year.

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Ball State Cardinals

The Cardinals offense took a massive step back from last season, as it mustered 24 points per game. The group eclipsed the 30-point mark just three times against FBS competition, a low threshold with eight games against MAC defenses.

The offense was held below 20 points in five matchups, all of which resulted in losses.

Plitt was mediocre this season, averaging 6.5 yards per pass attempt while tossing 17 touchdowns to five interceptions. He averaged just under 190 yards per game, which is 80 yards lower than his mark from last season.

Plitt tripled his rate from 2020 in balls thrown away and led this offense to a ranking that was nearly dead last in pass explosiveness.

Ball State didn’t find much success in the ground game, either, as the unit averaged 3.8 yards per carry for a rank of 89th nationally.

Freshman running back Carson Steele took over the starting running back spot through the back half of the season. Steele put up 829 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry but will have a tough time running against Georgia State’s front seven.

Ball State averaged just over 40 penalty yards per contest, ranking 24th in the nation. It succeeded in not beating itself, as it totaled only six interceptions and four fumbles on the season.

However, the defense gave up over 410 total yards per game, which is 85 more than the offense produced. The group allowed 4.3 yards per rush and ranked 98th in Success Rate.

The Cardinals weren’t much better against the pass, allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt and ranking 129th in Success Rate.  They produced just 3.8 tackles for loss, which is an area of concern against Georgia State’s dominant rushing attack.

Georgia State vs. Ball State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ball State and Georgia State match up statistically:

Ball State Offense vs. Georgia State Defense
Rush Success7345
Line Yards7145
Pass Success10674
Pass Blocking**8623
Big Play9837
Finishing Drives6658
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Georgia State Offense vs. Ball State Defense
Rush Success3698
Line Yards3596
Pass Success98129
Pass Blocking**10621
Big Play10862
Finishing Drives1965
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2090
Middle 811166
SP+ Special Teams3043
Plays per Minute2317
Rush Rate50.9% (90)65.3% (6)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Georgia State vs. Ball State Prediction

Regional Advantage: Georgia State

The game will be played in the Sun Belt territory in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s hard to imagine many Ball State fans traveling from Indiana on Christmas Day to see their team play in the Camellia Bowl. Meanwhile, Georgia State is just two hours away.

Motivational Advantage: Georgia State

Ball State won the MAC Championship last season and secured its first-ever bowl win in program history after defeating San Jose State. So, what do the Cardinals really have to play for in this game?

Georgia State has been on fire since October, losing only once to the eventual conference champion. It looks to capture the first eight-win season in program history with a victory here.

Statistical Advantage: Georgia State

The Panthers rank top-25 in early-down Success Rate and will be matching up against a Ball State defense that is bottom-five in the country in defending early-down Success Rates.

Georgia State will continue to ride that early success to move the chains and maintain ball control throughout the game. Ball State possessed the ball for an average of 27 minutes per game, which ranked bottom-10 in FBS this season.

Georgia State has been rolling the last seven games on both sides of the ball. The offense has averaged 35 points in that span, while the defense has let up just 20 points per contest. Ball State’s offense has scored 20 or fewer points in five games this season, all of which were losses.

The Cardinals defense is reliant on stopping big plays, and Georgia State’s offense is content with grinding out first downs without needing to rely on explosive plays.

Georgia State owns the regional, motivational, and statistical advantages against Ball State and will come away from the Camellia Bowl with a win and cover.

Pick: Georgia State -5.5 (Play to -7)

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