Georgia State announced Wednesday that it will travel to take on Case Keenum and the University of Houston Cougars on Sept. 24, 2011. While certainly not delivering quite the same name appeal as playing the University of Alabama, it does carry a name opponent and more importantly a check.
How big a check? According to Ken Sugiura of the AJC:
The payout will be $300,000, which is about $135,000 less than Georgia State received from Alabama to play in Tuscaloosa last November.
While Panther fans speculated ad nauseam about the possible FBS opponent, the Cougars of Conference USA make a ton of sense on several levels. The Panthers have recruited well in Texas with, most notably, starting DE Kalen Jenkins, who took the JUCO route at Navarro JC. The team's oft-rumored FBS move only fuels theories of this being a future conference opponent.
The AJC also reported that the rest of the schedule is taking shape in the form of:
Confirmed opponents for Georgia State’s second season are home games with Old Dominion (Sept. 10) and South Alabama (Oct. 22) and road games with South Carolina State (Oct. 15) and Texas-San Antonio (Oct. 29)
Director of Athletics Cheryl Levick explains the rationale behind playing a team like Houston:
"Attractive intersectional matchups like this raise the profile of Georgia State football and help us build our program."
Coach Bill Curry has made a mantra of playing any team, anywhere, anytime and discussed this matchup as well:
"This game presents another tremendous opportunity for our football team to test itself against a strong Houston program on their home field," said Curry. "Houston has an impressive coach in Kevin Sumlin and an outstanding quarterback in Case Keenum, who was injured this season but has been granted a sixth year of eligibility."
The 2010 Panthers faced the toughest schedules of any first-year program. While some schools load up with lesser competition, GSU faced the defending national champion, an FCS No. 3 Jacksonville State team and a team that had never previously lost a game in second-year program South Alabama.