The Wildcats face a daunting task Wednesday as they take on fierce Div. I opponent Georgia State University. GSU is home to 32,000 students, almost eight times the student population of ACU. A crowd that size can create an exciting atmosphere at any game.
The Panthers have a huge advantage over most teams on the Wildcats’ schedule: home games in the Atlanta Falcons’ 75,000-seat Georgia Dome.
Georgia State may not pack the Georgia Dome like the Falcons do, but 30,000 screaming Panthers far surpass any other crowd ACU has faced. Home fans also bring the intensity and pride of being in an NFL city, and that can cause trouble for the Wildcats.
Atlanta has a reputation for being a loud sports city as it recently set a stadium record for decibels when the Falcons played the Seattle Seahawks in the 2013 playoffs.
The dome also houses the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Games which will occur the same week as the Georgia State game, only adding to the already large crowd and atmosphere.
The inexperienced Wildcat offense could struggle with play-calling as the loud crowd might distract them or get inside their heads. The atmosphere could also overwhelm many of the players who are used to playing in smaller stadiums.
A major advantage for the Wildcats will be Div. I transfer running back Herschel Sims. Sims spent his freshman year at Oklahoma State University where he played in front of many large Div. I crowds. He should be able to help dictate the pace of the game and keep the inexperienced offense focused and calm.
The 962 miles separating Abilene and Atlanta will also be a cause for concern. Georgia State’s fans will outnumber ACU’s by a large margin which should give GSU an edge by dictating the crowd noise.
ACU will need to step up and play tough in the Div. I environment, as this is just the first of two games. The Wildcats will also tackle the 30,000-seat Troy University stadium and massive Trojan crowd on Sept. 13.
These two great opponents should help usher ACU into the Div. I football era. If the Wildcats can compete with Georgia State and Troy, they should be able to have a successful first season against less competitive teams in the Southland Conference.
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