Georgia Southern Eagles (0-8, 0-4) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-4, 4-1)
Location: Kidd Brewer Stadium AKA “The Rock” (30,000)
Time: Thursday November 9, 7:30 EST/6:30 CT
Series: App State leads 17-13-1 (’16 App St 34-10)
Odds: App State -17.5 O/U 55
It’s Hate Week. Actually it’s deeper than hate.
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The Mountaineers vs the Eagles.
The rivalry that dates back to 1932 (with a 48-year hiatus in the middle) kicks off this Thursday night in Boone, NC. The game will be broadcast in primetime on ESPNU, in what has become a yearly Thursday night tradition.
Appalachian State leads the all-time series 18-13-1, they’ve won 7 of the last nine games against the Eagles. Georgia Southern hasn’t won in Boone since 2007.
Both schools were a package deal when they entered the Sun Belt Conference. In many ways, both schools are mirror images of each other. Both are public schools that are roughly the same size. Georgia Southern and App State took turns dominating the Southern Conference and FCS/IAA over the past three-plus decades. Georgia Southern won 6 national titles at that level; App State won 3.
It’s the Blue Ridge Mountains vs. The Georgia Lowcountry.
Ever since both schools moved up to FBS together, both fanbases will admit, that behind the hate, there is a fair amount of respect for one another. Two schools that are tied together by fate.
This Year’s Matchup
This year’s edition lacks a bit of the luster of past matchups. App State has lost two in a row to UMass and ULM. Coach Scott Satterfield and The Mountaineers have fallen short of preseason expectations and the fans in Boone are starting to get restless.
With a relatively easy conference slate (No Troy or Arkansas State) and with Taylor Lamb and Jalin Moore returning, they were expected to run away with the conference crown. Instead they are 5-4 and haven’t played a complete game outside of Savannah State all year.
App State is not HOT HOT HOT.
Now their most-hates rival comes to town Thursday night. Righting the ship starts by taking on the winless and desperate Eagles. Will it be or a cakewalk or will Appy continue to slide?
Georgia Southern is well, just awful. 0-8 for the first time in history. They are staring their first +9 loss season in modern history (post-1981) straight in the face. Without a doubt, this is the worst Eagles season ever, worse than ’09, worse than ’96, worse than ’06. Tyson Summers has joined Brian Van Gorder on the infamous “he who shall remain nameless” list in the minds of Eagle nation.
Chad Lunsford is doing his best to right the ship however and has changed at least the attitude around the practice facilities. The 21-17 loss to Georgia State hurt, no doubt, but it’s the best result the Eagles have had all year. They are trending in a positive direction little by little.
This is the 4th time Taylor Lamb has played Georgia Southern as App State QB during his illustrious career in Boone. He’s won the last two matchups and is 2-1, I’m sure a kid that grew up hating Georgia Southern (look up his dad Bobby Lamb if you don’t know) would love to beat the Eagles his senior year.
Lamb has thrown for 19 TDs and 4 INTs this year with a 60.8% completion percentage and over 2,000 yards passing. He’s added another 366 yards on the ground. Starting RB Jalin Moore is still averaging 5.0 yards a carry and shares the backfield with Malik Williams.
Ike Lewis and Thomas Hennigan are Lamb’s two favorite targets through the air. They’ve combined for 73 catches and 900 yards and 9 TDs so far this season. Jalen Virgil and TJ Watkins are also WRs to keep an eye on.
Georgia Southern is led by the trio of Shai Werts, LA Ramsby, and Wesley Fields. Lunsford is folding more and more flexbone into the offense by the week. You can start to see why Werts was anointed the starter so early; he has talent. He’s an elusive runner at times and is a better passer than I expected.
The quartet of Malik Henry, Obe Fortune, Mark Michaud, and D’Ondre Glenn are Werts’ primary targets through the air. Monteo Garrett is emerging as a homerun threat this offense desperately needs. He’s averaged over 8 yards a carry so far this season. Freshmen John Wesley Kennedy and Dexter Carter could see more playing time as the season goes on.
This is a game between two teams at a crossroads.
This rivalry swings between absolute blowouts and tight games decided by questionable calls by the referees. Georgia Southern is trending in the right direction, but they’re still not good. Penalties and turnovers cost them the victory last Saturday vs. Georgia State.
App State’s problems are more concerning however because they are still in the hunt for the conference crown. At 4-1 in the SBC, they are still in it, Back to back losses to UMass and ULM are the proverbial canary in the coal mine for the Mountaineers, something is wrong. What should have been a double-digit win season is slowly slipping out of their grasps.
Thursday nights can be wild. I think the Eagles finally breakthrough and get their first win in Boone since ’07.