Appalachian State (7-2, 5-0) at Troy (7-1, 4-0)
Start Time: 3:30 ET
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama
Series: App State leads 3-2
Weather: Partly Cloudy, temps starting in the high 60’s dropping into the 50’s
Line: PK, O/U at 47.5
The first of two major Sun Belt games in six days in southeast Alabama sees the two best teams in the Sun Belt face off.
Look at the stats, App State and Troy are 1-2 in the Sun Belt in scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency, interceptions, sacks, first downs and turnover margin. This is going to be a good one.
For the Mountaineers
App State comes into this game on a five-game win streak and have only allowed three touchdowns in Sun Belt play, one on a botched field goal, one after a blocked punt and one with four seconds left.
The offense has been built on running the ball with Jalin Moore (175 carries for 1,030 yards and seven touchdown) and Marcus Cox (83 carries for 529 yards and five touchdowns). Quarterback Taylor Lamb has thrown for 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns against seven interceptions, plus has added 60 rushes for 205 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The big target out wide is Shaedon Meadors, who has 30 catches for 503 yards but only one touchdown so far.
App State has been the model of consistency for the most part. There was a 10-0 early deficit to Georgia Southern, but the Mountaineers rallied to win 34-10. The Apps have shut down and mopped up their Sun Belt foes with regularity. That consistency is why App State is 24-4 in their last 28 games.
For the Trojans
Troy are on a six-game win streak and have looked the flashier of the two teams. Brandon Silvers has been the main architect of the Trojans’ offense, breaking the 2,000-yard passing mark and having 18 touchdowns versus seven interceptions. Deondre Douglas and Emanuel Thompson are the two big receivers, having 45 and 48 catches, respectively for a combined 975 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Trojans have had some chaotic games of late. Down 14-6 in the third quarter versus Georgia State before rallying to win 31-21, going down 14-0 to South Alabama before rallying to win in the final two minutes 28-21 and once again going down 14-0 to UMass last week before rolling 52-31.
Troy is in the second year of rebuilding under Neal Brown and it’s looking like a job well done. In a way, they’re a lot like App State 2015, being a new challenger to the Sun Belt scene.
You have the 4th and 6th best rushing defenses in all FBS with Troy allowing 97.8 yards per game on the ground and App State averaging 105.6 yards. The Mountaineers put more of their identity into running the ball, so being held under 100 rushing yards seems like a recipe to lose. However, Troy averages just around 20 yards less than the Mountaineers per game (220.6 to 198.8) so the same could be said for them, although their passing game could bail them out easier.
Each team can give up some passing yards, but have a combined 31 interceptions on the year (App 16, Troy 15) which are tops in FBS and both teams have 24 sacks, a Top 30 mark in FBS. Whoever can create more havoc and negative yardage plays will have the advantage.
Troy is the bigger team while App State is more physical. The Trojans have only allowed two sacks this season so they can give Silvers some time to throw. Can the Trojans contain the hybrid 3-4 defense of the Mountaineers?
This is a tough one to predict objectively. I’ll just say this. Whoever can establish their game in the second half will be the likely victor.