ATLANTA -- Season three of Georgia State football kicks off with a stern test as the Panthers host a South Carolina State program that has posted 11 straight winning seasons in Thursday's season opener at the Georgia Dome.
Thursday's game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be regionally televised on CSS. Radio coverage is available on the GSU Radio Network, including flagship stations Newstalk 1160 AM (WCFO) and 1690 AM (WMLB). For tickets, call 866-GA-STATE or visit GeorgiaStateSports.com.
Opening on Thursday night, Georgia State will be among the first college teams in the nation to tee it up, and head coach Bill Curry and his squad appreciate that.
"It's something that Cheryl Levick, our director of athletics, works very hard to put together," said Curry at his weekly press conference. "We love the idea of us starting out on Thursday night. Our students love it. Our fans love it. We do get to go first. It's going to be televised. It's an exciting moment and we want to play well. We want to go out and execute."
And Curry, entering his final season on the sideline, knows that the Panthers will have to play well to give themselves a chance against a very good football team.
"South Carolina State is one of the better FCS programs, and when I say program, I'm talking about perennial winners," he said. "They've got 11 consecutive winning seasons to their credit and have won championships in their league. They have a tradition of over a century of excellent football."
Included in that century is a victory over Georgia State last season, when South Carolina State scored the game's final 13 points to down the Panthers, 23-13, at Orangeburg, S.C.
"Last year was a lesson playing against them because we played very hard, but they played harder," said Curry. "The game was a good physical match and was won by the team that was more determined. We've got to be more determined when the chips are down."
For Georgia State, redshirt freshman Ben McLane of Snellville, Ga., will make his debut at quarterback, with junior Kelton Hill also expected to see action.
"The way to prepare for a game like this, in my opinion, is not to make a big deal out of it," said McLane, whose last game in the Georgia Dome came when he led Brookwood High School to a victory over Colquitt County in the 2010 Class AAAAA state title game. "We prepared so hard in the off-season and we've had a long training camp. You put so much pressure on yourself that when it comes to a big game like this, it's like another day at work. When you do walk out under the lights and have a bunch of people there, it's just like in practice. We've done that to ourselves, and we embrace whatever comes our way."
South Carolina State, coached by Buddy Pough, counters with returning starter Richard Cue, an athletic quarterback who passed for 900 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 514 yards and eight scores in leading the Bulldogs to a 7-4 record in 2011. In the game against GSU, he finished 16-for-30 for 213 yards passing while rushing for two touchdowns.
Curry announced that the game captains for the South Carolina State contest are senior safety Demazio Skelton, junior wide receiver Jordan Giles - a native of Columbia, S.C. - and junior long snapper Scott McQueen.
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