Appalachian State (5-2, 3-0) at Georgia Southern (4-3, 3-1)
Start Time: Thursday, October 27th, 7:30 PM ET
Location: Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia
Series: App State leads 16-13-1
Weather: Mostly clear, temps dropping from the 70’s to the 60’s.
Line: App State by 5, O/U at 46
For the 24th straight season, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will meet as conference foes. This is a rivalry that has transcended subdivisions and conferences. The stories going in and coming out of this game have been legendary or infamous to each fanbase. In the last 35 years, there are few programs who have accomplished as much as these two in all of Division I.
This game is Deeper Than Hate because while there’s hate, there’s also respect. Iron sharpens iron and besides beating each other up, they love to beat up everyone else who gets in their way. They both announced their move to FBS on the same day, March 27th, 2014, and have taken the Sun Belt by storm. These two are a combined 31-4 against the rest of the Sun Belt in their short FBS tenures.
What Each Team Brings To The Table
We generally know what App State under Scott Satterfield is about. Physicality, zone running, fast defense and ball control. Georgia Southern is going through an identity change under first-year head coach Tyson Summers. One of the most feared rushing teams in America is trying to become more balanced and is having a tough slog at it.
The big news in Eagle land last week was the burning of Seth Shuman’s redshirt. Shuman, a pocket passer, differs greatly from the two-headed QB monster of Kevin Ellision and Favian Upshaw, who are both known for running more than passing. The move came because of long-standing injuries to both QB’s. Upshaw didn’t play at New Mexico State last Saturday.
One thing that could play into Georgia Southern’s advantage is the sheer number of weapons at their disposal. Besides the three quarterbacks, you have the leading rusher Wesley Fields and we still haven’t gotten to Matt Brieda and L.A. Ramsby. Out wide, leading receiver B.J. Johnson III, Montay Crockett and Myles Campbell have the lion’s share of receptions and yards. Also, the fourth-leading receiver is Wesley Fields, so there’s a threat that can slip out of the backfield.
The Mountaineers have done well without Marcux Cox with Jalin Moore getting over 100 yards in the last four games and the passing game finding a better groove behind leading receiver Shaedon Meadors, but the Apps have 17 different receivers with at least one catch.
The App State defense has been making most of the headlines, having a streak of 185 minutes and 51 seconds between touchdowns allowed going through most of the Idaho game. The Mountaineers are 7th in FBS with 12 interceptions,
Georgia Southern will have to make the most out of their red zone trips. Out of 29 red zone trips in 2016, Georgia Southern had scored 25 times, but 11 of those have been field goals. App State’s red zone defense has only allowed 10 touchdowns in 19 trips. In a game like this, the Eagles will need touchdowns, not just yards.
The Mountaineer offense hasn’t exactly been prolific this season and while the Eagles are 4-3, they do boast one of the best defenses in the Sun Belt, ranking near the top along with App State. With Marcus Cox very likely to play, will there be some rust for him to shake off or will Cox return to his old form quickly?
The special teams to look out for will be the kick returners. Both teams are by far #1 and #2 in the Sun Belt in punt return yardage with App averaging 17.8 yards per return and Georgia Southern at 14.6 YPR.
And remember, you can never discount the rivalry factor that can make all the stats and point spreads worthless.
Despite App State being the favorite, Statesboro is home for the Eagles and it won’t be easy to win there for the Mountaineers. Still, if App State does what they normally do in controlling the ball and making big defensive plays, it’ll be a long night for Georgia Southern. It’s up to the Eagles to seize the initiative early and keep the App defense guessing. Touchdowns could be at a premium here.
Appalachian State 26, Georgia Southern 15