Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#165 Appalachian State vs.
#166 South Alabama
Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 12:00pm EDT
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#165 Appalachian State University
#166 University of South Alabama
6-0
1-6
5-1
3-4
3-3
1-6
42
16
21
30

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This article covers a past game!

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The undefeated Appalachian State Mountaineers will travel to Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday afternoon for a Sun Belt Conference tilt versus the South Alabama Jaguars.

Appalachian State entered last week as the highest-ranked team in Sun Belt Conference history and they managed to improve their standing with an impressive win over UL Monroe. The Mountaineers moved up to No. 21 in the AP Polls this week and they could have a chance at a New Year’s Six bid if they can finish the season with an undefeated record. Can the Mountaineers keep their positive momentum going on the road versus the Jaguars on Saturday afternoon?

Mountaineers continue to make history

Appalachian State made history last weekend, becoming the first Sun Belt team to win a game as a ranked team. The Mountaineers improved to 6-0 and 3-0 in Sun Belt play with a resounding 52-7 victory versus Louisiana-Monroe last weekend. Running back Darrynton Evans ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and the defense limited Louisiana-Monroe to just 213 yards of total offense to remain undefeated. Junior quarterback Zac Thomas also had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 214 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, while adding another 58 yards and a score on the ground. The victory makes the Mountaineers bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive year. Since making the transition from the FCS to the Sun Belt, Appalachian State has never missed out on making a bowl game.

Thomas has been even more efficient in his second season as a starter for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot-1 signal-caller comes in with 1,163 passing yards, 13 total touchdowns (three rushing), and only three picks this season. He enters this week with 31 career passing touchdowns and only nine interceptions. As good as Thomas has been, this Mountaineers offense relies on moving the ball on the ground, where they are averaging a healthy 232.7 yards per game. Evans leads the team in yards (672) and touchdowns (10) through six contests.

After giving up a score on the opening drive last week, the defense flexed its muscles, forcing three turnovers and limiting the Warhawks to just 2-for-13 on third downs. Nearly half (82 of 213) of UL Monroe’s total yards came on the opening possession and Warhawks’ quarterbacks finished the game just 11-of-27 passing for 102 yards and two interceptions. Appalachian State’s defense has given up seven points or less three times this season, including each of their last two contests. They come in allowing just 21.7 points and 357.8 yards of total offense per game.

Ball security becoming a problem for Jaguars

South Alabama has a few extra days to prepare for Appalachian State after being defeated by in-state rival Troy 37-13 last Wednesday. Cephus Johnson finished with just 183 passing yards and two interceptions, while Ka Minter rushed for 86 yards in a losing effort for the Jaguars, who dropped their fifth consecutive contest. The Jaguars showed some fight early, but the offense stalled in the second half and was held to just three points after halftime. South Alabama was out-gained 432 to 274 in the loss and the Jaguars are now averaging just 15.7 points per game through three Sun Belt contests.

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Mobile, Alabama, will be making his ninth career start under center for the Jaguars on Saturday. After throwing two touchdowns the week prior, Johnson had two passes picked off last week and he’s now thrown seven interceptions already this season. South Alabama has lost 16 turnovers this season (121st in FBS) and Johnson has thrown seven interceptions in six games. Despite his ball security issues, Johnson has the unwavering support of his coaches and backup quarterback Tylan Morton is expected to redshirt for the remainder of the season.

On defense, the Jaguars come into the week allowing 30.4 points and 404.7 yards of total offense per contest. They’ve also struggled to stop the run through six games, allowing 203.6 rushing yards per game (109th in FBS). That’s going to be another major point of emphasis this week against a Mountaineers’ offense that ranks 18th in the nation in rushing offense.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The Mountaineers faced little resistance last weekend and they should be able to roll to another easy victory here. The defense has been dominant over the past two weeks, allowing seven points against the UL-Lafayette and UL-Monroe. They gave up just 254 and 213 yards of total offense in those contests and should have an easier time this week against a 1-6 Jaguars team that hasn’t scored more than 21 points in a game this season. Look for the Mountaineers to cruise to another blowout victory in this matchup on the road versus South Alabama on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Appalachian State -26

Full-Game Total Pick

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It’s hard to see this game going over the projected total here. The Mountaineers have been explosive at times on offense this season, but they will have to carry the load in this one. South Alabama has scored just 11 points per game over their last five contests -- all losses -- and they will be forced to ditch their running game if they get down big early. That’s going to be bad news, especially with a turnover-prone quarterback. Take this game to go under the projected total on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Under 52
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.