Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#197 Georgia Southern vs.
#198 Appalachian State
Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 2:30pm EST
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The Appalachian State Mountaineers will look to close out another 10-win regular season when they host the Georgia Southern Eagles in the annual Deeper Than Hate rivalry matchup on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Georgia Southern is coming off a 34-17 home loss to the No. 13 BYU Cougars as a 20-point underdog on Saturday and is now 3-8 (2-5 Sun Belt) on the season. Appalachian State has already locked up a spot in the conference title game at 9-2 (6-1 Sun Belt) after demolishing the Troy Trojans 45-7 as a 9.5-point road favorite over the weekend.

This has been a competitive rivalry all-time, with Appalachian State leading 19-15-1 after winning 34-26 on the road last season.

Georgia Southern hopes to close out tough season with massive upset

It's been a rough season for the Eagles including the firing of head coach Chad Lunsford after four games, and they couldn't compete in the second half against a top 15 BYU team last Saturday. Logan Wright recorded two touchdown runs in the span of four minutes in the middle of the second quarter to give Georgia Southern a brief 17-14 lead before BYU kicked a pair of field goals ahead of the halftime break, and the Cougars gradually extended the advantage in the second as the Eagles didn't score again.

Connor Cigelske was a bright spot, completing 11 of 14 pass attempts for 122 yards and an interception while adding 20 rushing yards. Wright racked up 50 yards and two scores on 14 carries while adding a team-high five carries for 43 yards. BYU outgained Georgia Southern 507-268 while forcing two turnovers, as the defense couldn't hold up forever despite a solid first half.

"They lived up to everything I thought they’d be. They’re a national program. So I knew a lot about the staff, those guys, before this week. Very talented team, very hard-nosed team. They give us a lot of lessons that we’ll take forward, not only at the end of this year but moving into next year,” interim head coach Kevin Whitley said to the Associated Press.

The Eagles have only been somewhat better against the spread at 5-6, although they have now covered in two straight games after picking up a win over Texas State as a slight underdog the week before. Overs are also 5-6 for the Eagles, with three of their last four games going under the betting total.

It hasn't been pretty for the Eagles on either side of the ball, with the offense managing just 21.8 points and 354.6 yards per game this season. Georgia Southern also has a sub-100 scoring defense, with opponents putting up 31.8 points and 455.0 yards per contest.

Last weekend was Cigelske's first career appearance, as normal starter Justin Tomlin was out injured after completing 74 of 143 passes for 977 yards, two touchdowns and nine interceptions while adding 195 rushing yards and two scores across eight games earlier in the year. Wright has piled up 136 carries for 761 yards and eight touchdowns, while Khaleb Hood is the top pass catcher with 33 receptions for 424 yards. Anthony Wilson leads the Georgia Southern defense with 73 tackles including four for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and nine pass breakups.

It's unclear if Tomlin or backup Cam Ransom will recover from their injuries in time to play on Saturday, and Cigelske might get the start anyway after a decent effort against BYU. Second-leading rusher Gerald Green is also in concussion protocol and his status us unknown. Slot receiver Dexter Carter Jr. (undisclosed), corner Derrick Canteen (pectoral) and linebacker Todd Bradley-Glenn (biceps) are all out for the season.

App State crushes Troy, locks up division title

The Mountaineers are headed back to the Sun Belt Championship Game with their seventh consecutive season of nine or more wins after easily taking down Troy last weekend. Troy actually scored first only for the Mountaineers to reel off 45 straight points, 35 of which came in the second half, with Corey Sutton, Thomas Hennigan and Eli Wilson all bringing in touchdown receptions in addition to scoring runs by Nate Noel, Daetrich Harrington and Jahmir Smith.

Chase Brice completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 212 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Noel rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, with Hennigan reeling in seven receptions for 85 yards and a score. It was a dominant effort for the Appalachian State defense, which held Troy to 142 total yards and forced two turnovers.

“The whole offense, they really take a part. The receivers, they block for touchdowns. The tight ends, they block great. The O-line bully people up front. It’s just poetry in motion,” Noel said to Appalachian State's student newspaper after another big day on the ground.

Appalachian State has also been a terrific bet at 8-3 against the spread, and has covered in five straight games including an upset of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on October 20. Overs are 5-6 for the Mountaineers after the contest against Troy went over the betting total by a single point.

This Mountaineers offense ranks in the top 20 nationally with an average 36.5 points and 450.1 yards per game. Appalachian State's defense is also comfortably within the top 25 in most statistical categories, allowing just 20.4 points and 331 yards per game.

After struggling at Clemson and Duke, Brice has finally found a home, completing 203 of 314 pass attempts for 2,668 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while adding three rushing scores. Noel has run the ball 175 times for 1,011 yards and four touchdowns, while Sutton is the team's top receiver with 54 catches for 821 yards and seven scores. D'Marco Jackson is enjoying a huge season for the Appalachian State defense with 96 tackles including 15 for loss, five sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and four pass breakups.

Most of Appalachian State's starters are currently healthy, although key linebacker Brendan Harrington has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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This may seem like a lot of points to give in a rivalry matchup, but this edition looks like a massive mismatch with Appalachian State playing so well on both sides of the ball and Georgia Southern struggling through a transition season. The Mountaineers have hit a different gear late in the season with four consecutive wins by 24 points or more, and it's tough to trust Georgia Southern to do any better while dealing with key injuries.

Appalachian State boasts an efficient offense that averages 6.3 yards per play by wearing down opponents behind two outstanding running backs in Noel and Camerun Peoples plus one of the nation's better offensive lines. That spells bad news for the Georgia Southern defense, which has not been good up front with 4.6 yards per rush attempt allowed and not many sacks on the season.

Georgia Southern's offense has also been limited all season, and potentially being down to a third-string freshman quarterback in addition to missing Green (5.6 yards per carry, five touchdowns) is going to make things tough against an Appalachian State defense that has dismantled Sun Belt opposition. The Mountaineers are red-hot against the spread as they are completely blowing teams out lately, and don't expect them to let up this weekend against a hated rival.

Prediction: Appalachian State -24.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Georgia Southern doesn't run a full-on option offense, but incorporates several elements while passing the ball on under 38% of its plays to rank in the bottom 10 nationally. That makes for a bad matchup against an Appalachian State run defense that has dominated with just 3.5 yards per attempt allowed, and the Eagles won't have many possessions anyway as they run a very slow pace.

While not that extreme, Appalachian State is certainly a run-heavy offense, and won't be in any hurry in this game as it figures to open up a big lead quickly. The Eagles can't be trusted to contribute anything here against a tough defense, and Appalachian State's scoring drives will take too much time off the clock.

Prediction: Under 55.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily. 
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