Georgia St.-Clemson Preview
Stoudt began the season as Clemson's starting quarterback but was benched during a 23-17 loss at then-No. 1 Florida State on Sept. 20. He also guided the Tigers (7-3) to four wins in five games after Watson broke a bone in his hand, but they also struggled offensively - last Saturday's 28-6 defeat at Georgia Tech marked the third time in four games they scored 17 or fewer points as Watson left with a knee injury that an MRI later revealed as a sprained ligament and bone bruise.
''Obviously, it was pretty much a train wreck in Atlanta,'' coach Dabo Swinney said.
Stoudt was the conductor for most of it, throwing as many interceptions as completions (3), and two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Clemson, No. 22 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, had 190 total yards - its worst since being held to 153 by South Carolina on Nov. 26, 2011.
Swinney, though, realizes the Tigers must bounce back this week and rally around Stoudt, noting,''We've got to get his confidence back. He can do everything we need him to do to win for us, there's no doubt about that.''
Playing Georgia State (1-9) should do wonders for any quarterback's confidence. The Panthers are 1-21 since joining the FBS last season as a member of the Sun Belt, and their lone win came at the expense of FCS school Abilene Christian to open 2014.
Georgia State has yielded 30 or more points in every game this season and an average of 43.8 overall, mainly due to a porous rushing defense that has given up 3,092 yards overall and at least 321 in each of the last five contests. That bodes well for redshirt freshman tailback Wayne Gallman, who leads the team with 487 rushing yards and has 289 the last three games for the Tigers.
Nick Arbuckle threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns but also was picked off twice in Georgia State's 45-21 defeat at Troy on Nov. 8. Coach Trent Miles, though, thinks his team can find some optimism for this contest from its Sept. 20 loss at Washington, where the Panthers led 14-0 at halftime before being overrun in a 45-14 defeat.
"Hopefully we learned that we can only worry about what we can control," Miles said. "We can't control the crowd or the weather, we can't control their size and speed. We can only control our preparation our effort and our execution, so hopefully we go out there and just worry about us and play as hard as we can."
Arbuckle has already set a single-season school record with 2,812 yards and is 284 shy of passing Ronnie Bell's career mark of 3,095. The junior college transfer has thrown three or more touchdowns in four games this year.
Clemson has already completed its ACC schedule and cannot reach the title game. The Tigers wrap up their regular season Nov. 29 versus instate rival South Carolina.