Matchup- Appalachian State (Sun Belt) vs. Ohio (MAC)
Spread- Appalachian State (-8.0)
Location- Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL.
When- Saturday, December 19th, 5:30 PM
Where to Watch- ESPN
App. State Overview
After a somewhat disappointing 7-5 finish in 2014 for the Mountaineers, Coach Scott Satterfield and his crew made an impact in the Sun Belt, posting a 10-2 record with their only losses being to the number one seed in their conference in Arkansas State, and the number one team in the nation in Clemson. As the 6th best rushing team in the nation, Appalachian State has ran rampant on opponents, even putting up over 200 yards against Clemson. During a six game winning streak, the Mountaineers routed UL-Monroe, sporting 654 yards, with 379 on the ground. Defensively, they have improved immensely, earning their spot as the 12th best team on the other side of the ball. They do struggle against the pass game, however, which was shown against Arkansas State. The defense is definitely prone to deep threats.
Players to Watch
Marcus Cox (RB)- This junior has posted 1261 rushing yards on the season with 8 TDs, with his best game coming during the last game of the season against South Alabama, where he put up 192 yards on 14 carries. He is a power back in it’s purest essence, barreling through defenses with his North-South rushing style.
Eric Boggs (LB)- This former high school tight end turned linebacker leads the team with 95 tackles, with 6.5 sacks and 3 interceptions on the season. His abilities in coverage help him read the routes from his opponents, which also helps him with open field tackles, putting up 14 against Troy.
How they can win: Pound the ball up the middle. If Cox establishes the run game, they should be able to handle it.
It was a bounce back year for Frank Solich, the 11 year head coach. After a 6-6 season, the Bobcats won 8 games, and are looking for their first bowl victory since 2012. Behind their balanced offense, which ranks in the top 50 in both passing and rushing, Ohio won 5 of their first 6 games, with their only loss being on the road to Minnesota by 3. Things went a little downhill when they lost three straight by an average of 32.3 points per game. However, they found a bit of a stride at the end, as they won their final three, including an impressive road win against the eventual MAC runner-up, Northern Illinois. They head into this game with a ton of momentum.
Players to Watch
Brendan Cope (WR) – There isn’t a definitive star on this offense. Everybody does their share. 8 players have rushed for at least 100 yards, and five players have produced at least 280 receiving yards. But Cope is the deep threat on this team. While he only has 28 catches, he managed to rack up 464 yards on 16.6 YPC, as well as 2 touchdowns. He averaged at least 24 yards per catch in four games this season. He might end up with a goose egg this game, or he might make one or two huge plays that could change this game.
Quentin Poling (LB) – The Red Shirt Sophomore was all over the field for the Bobcats. He had 58 total tackles, including 8.5 for losses, which was second on the team. He was also tied for the team lead in both sacks (4) and interceptions (3). He deflected 5 passes, broke up 2 of them, forced and recovered a fumble, and returned one of his picks for a touchdown. You can expect Poling to find his way onto the stat sheet yet again against Appalachian State, as he attempts to head into next year with some fire.
How Ohio Can Win
If Ohio wants to win, they’ll have to incorporate a game plan that involves stopping Appalachian State’s 5th ranked rushing attack. That will be tough, especially since Appalachian State, despite being ranked 89th in total passing offense, averages 8.9 yards per pass, which ranks 14th in the nation. They’ve also accounted for 31 scores through the air. Ohio will have to bring their A-game to at least force Appalachian state to become one-dimensional. One thing that can bring Ohio peace is that Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb went 9-28 for 95 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs against their only ranked opponent, Clemson.
Final Score Prediction: Ohio Wins 20-17
E. White and Brian Sullivan: @TheMadManSports