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Georgia State measures success in steps

Georgia State is the biggest underdog in the country this week.

The 45-point spread isn’t a surprise considering that the Panthers have lost 24 of 26 games at the FBS level as they prepare to visit No. 12 Oregon Saturday morning at Autzen Stadium.

Georgia State started playing football in 2010 and spent three seasons at the FCS level before joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2013. The Panthers went 0-12 in 2013 and 1-11 last season, but they’re 1-1 after beating New Mexico State 34-32 last Saturday for their first win over an FBS school and first Sun Belt win in 16 tries.

“Anytime you win you gain confidence, especially when you are a program that is struggling and just starting up football,” Georgia State coach Trent Miles said. “You are trying to get everything going, so the win is very important to us. At the same time, we are very respectful of Oregon, but we are getting on that plane to go out there and try to win the game. We are not going to just show up.”

Miles is in his third season as head coach after serving as an assistant at Stanford and Washington. Receivers coach Tim Lappano has coached at Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and California.

The Panthers were halfway toward a landmark win at Washington last season when they led 14-0 at halftime before losing 45-14.

“We didn’t finish and a lot of that had to do with how well Washington played in the second half,” Miles said. “The experience we learned from that is don’t worry about Oregon, don’t worry about the team you are playing, worry about yourself and play to the best of your abilities and see what happens.”

This week, Miles isn’t worried about the betting line that would create the biggest upset in college football history if the Panthers were to win.

“We are excited to go play Oregon; it will be a great opportunity for us to go play in one of the greatest settings in college football,” he said. “We look forward to competing with the idea of going out and trying to win a football game against one of the best programs in the country.”

Miles was part of an upset at Autzen in 2001 when Stanford beat Oregon 49-42 to give the Ducks their only loss of the season.

But he was 0-3 against Oregon as an assistant at Washington from 2005-07.

“Oregon is an extremely talented football team coming off a tough loss at Michigan State, so I’m sure they will not be real happy and try to go make a statement,” Miles said. “What I have seen is a lot of really, really good athletes put in good situations by the staff. They can make a lot of plays. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but at the same time we will step up and fight and accept the challenge.”

Senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle is in his second season as the starter. He’s completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,954 yards and 27 touchdowns in 14 games.

Freshman wide receiver Penny Hart had 11 catches for 150 yards and two scores last week.

“They really spread it around, they do a nice job,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “We’re kind of similar to them on offense and defense, schematically.

“They are a little bit more pass-oriented than we are and obviously the freshman receiver has had a couple of unbelievable games.”