ORLANDO, Fla. — They may have come to Florida to play a football game, but for both San Jose State and the Georgia State the inaugural Cure Bowl is about more than what takes place on the field.
The game, set for Saturday night at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, offers a platform to bring more awareness to breast cancer.
Money raised from the contest will directly benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which funds cancer research.
“It needs to be talked about,” said Georgia State linebacker Joseph Peterson, whose aunt is a cancer survivor. “It’s a big thing to play in a game like this. We are all very proud to be a part of it.”
The game’s cause couldn’t be more personal to San Jose State safety Simon Connette, who lost his mother, Nancy, to cancer last spring.
Connette, who wears a breast cancer awareness wrist band, said the memory of his mother is with him “every single day, and every second.”
“Just to be a part of this and knowing that it is supporting such a good cause, really means a lot to me because I don’t want anyone to feel what I and my family have to feel,” Connette said.
Unfortunately, Connette is not the only Spartan whose life has been touched by the disease. Amy Rodriguez, the mother of punter Michael Carrizosa, has cancer as well.
Five members of Georgia State coach Trent Miles family have had cancer, including his mother, who is flying in for Saturday’s game.
“Playing in a game like this, for a cause like this is bigger than us,” Miles said.
Here are some things to watch in Saturday’s Cure Bowl matchup between San Jose State (5-7) and Georgia State (6-6):
ARE WE READY? The Spartans were one of three schools with losing records to get a bowl bid with the announcement coming, ironically, during their year-end team banquet. While the Spartans have been trying to prepare for the game, coaches were on the road recruiting and players were taking finals up until Wednesday. Nevertheless, Spartans coach Ron Caragher said he felt comfortable the team had established the fundamentals that will have them prepared to play Saturday.
AIR ARBUCKLE: Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle ranks fifth in FBS in passing yards (346.7 per game) and is 95 yards away from breaking the Sun Belt Conference’ single-season passing record of 4,254 yards set by Troy’s Levi Brown in 2009. Arbuckle will take on a talented San Jose State secondary. “A lot of times we have seen defenses on film that are good defenses, but will have mental lapses and make mistakes and let receivers run wide open,” Arbuckle said. “You don’t see that a lot from their defense.”
SWERVIN’ ERVIN: Expect San Jose State running back Tyler Ervin to get the ball — a lot. The senior rushed for 300 yards on 42 carries against Fresno State earlier this season. He also had 263 yards on 36 rushes against New Mexico State, making him the only back in the FBS this season to have at least two games of rushing for more than 250 yards.
BOWL CHRISTENERS: Saturday will mark the third time San Jose State has played in an inaugural bowl game. The Spartans played in the 1981 California Bowl (later known as the California Raisin Bowl) and the 2006 New Mexico Bowl (now known as the Gildan New Mexico Bowl).
HOT STREAK: The Panthers have won four in a row and five of their last six. During that time they have averaged 32.5 points and 508.8 yards of offense.