It’s a matchup of Sun Belt foes down in the Tar Heel State. The South Alabama Jaguars are on the road as they make the trip to face the Appalachian State Mountaineers Saturday afternoon. South Alabama dropped a 52-35 decision on the road to Memphis in non-conference action last Saturday night. Appalachian State won their second straight with a 72-7 demolition of Gardner-Webb at home last Saturday. The teams have split two previous meetings with the Mountaineers taking a 34-27 win on the road in the last matchup on December 5, 2015.
South Alabama Jaguars Try to Remain Unbeaten in Sun Belt Play
South Alabama hung tough against Memphis but their defense collapsed in the fourth quarter, sending them to a road defeat. The Jaguars look to win their second straight conference game as they return to Sun Belt action here. South Alabama was tied at 21 at the half and was within 31-27 after three quarters before getting outscored 21-8 in the fourth. The Jaguars were beaten 563-467 in total offense, 31-19 in first downs and 31:31 to 28:29 in time of possession. South Alabama also committed a pair of turnovers while not forcing a takeaway and had an extra point blocked in the loss.
The Jaguars are tied for 81st in the FBS in passing offense with 213.2 yards per contest and 105th with 129.5 yards per game. South Alabama is 77th as they average 28.8 points per game and a dismal 126th in scoring defense as they allow 42 points per contest. Cole Garvin has completed 10 of 22 passes for 64 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Evan Orth has completed 66 of 96 passes for 789 yards with six touchdown passes and one interception while adding 113 yards on the ground. Kawaan Baker leads the Jaguars with 21 carries for 134 yards and four touchdowns. Tra Minter has been bottled up in the early going with 47 carries for just 120 yards plus three scores. Baker is second on the team with 12 receptions for 97 yards plus three scores on the year. Jordan McCray (11 catches, 68 yards, TD) and Jamarius Way (team-high 28 catches, team-high 437 yards, two TD) also are key pieces in the passing game. Gavin Patterson has hit nine of 13 extra points but is two of two on field goal attempts this season with a long of 47.
Appalachian State Mountaineers Look for Third Straight Win
Appalachian State bounced back from the unexpected off week thanks to Hurricane Florence canceling their home opener against Southern Miss by trouncing Gardner-Webb. The Mountaineers shoot for a third straight win as they open conference play here at home. This one was over early as Appalachian State jumped to a 28-7 lead after one quarter and put it away with a 52-7 halftime edge. The Mountaineers rolled up a dominating 692-160 edge in total offense, picked up 31 first downs while allowing 11 and forced two turnovers while not committing any. Appalachian State also added touchdowns on a blocked punt and a punt return in the one-sided contest.
The Mountaineers are 6th in the FBS in scoring offense as they average 51.7 points per game. Appalachian State is 33rd in the country in passing with 282.3 yards per contest and tied for 24th with 243.3 rushing yards a game. The Mountaineers are 38th in scoring defense by allowing 20.3 points per game. Zac Thomas has hit 50 of 67 passes for 750 yards with six touchdowns against one interception while adding 80 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Peyton Derrick is eight of eight passing for 90 yards plus a score while adding 14 rushing yards and a touchdown. Zeb Speir is one of three passing for nine yards. Jalin Moore is the team’s leader in the ground game as he has 37 carries for 245 yards plus three scores. D’Andre Hicks is the second back with 16 carries for 156 yards plus a touchdown this season. Corey Sutton leads the Mountaineers with 13 receptions for 281 yards plus two scores. Malik Williams (11 catches, 155 yards, two TD) and Thomas Hennigan (eight grabs, 85 yards) are valuable targets. Chandler Staton has booted all 18 extra points and three of four field goal attempts with a long of 38 this season. Michael Rubino is two of three on extra points without attempting a field goal this year.
- Mountaineers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win
- Mountaineers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win
- Jaguars are 8-21-1 ATS in their last 30 conference games
- Jaguars are 2-14 ATS in their last 16 games following an ATS win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
South Alabama has found itself shredded defensively early and often this season. The Jaguars have allowed an average of 498 yards and 42 points per game while allowing 6.2 yards per play. South Alabama doesn’t force enough turnovers or have the offense that can sustain any kind of success with those kinds of numbers. Despite forcing nine takeaways in four games, the Jaguars are still a -1 in the takeaway/giveaway category thanks to 10 turnovers on offense. Appalachian State is averaging 7.8 yards per play and 6.1 yards per rushing attempt. They threw a scare into Penn State and has demolished their last two opponents by a combined 117-16. This is a terrible matchup for South Alabama. Appalachian State rolls to the easy win here to make it three straight victories.
Prediction: Appalachian State Mountaineers -25.5
Full-Game Total Pick
We’ve seen signs that South Alabama can do something offensively of late. The last two games has seen the Jaguars put 76 points on the board and saw them pick up their lone win of the season. The problem for South Alabama is consistency: the run game isn’t overly impressive and there’s not a big play option in the passing game once you get past Way. Appalachian State is as confident as ever. The Mountaineers seemed to learn from that near miss at Penn State and has destroyed everything in its path since. Can Thomas and company stay focused with conference play getting underway here?
The over is 4-0 in the Jaguars’ last 4 games overall, 4-0 in their last four in September, 4-0 in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game and 4-0 in their last four on fieldturf. Appalachian State has seen the over go 5-1 in their last 6 vs. a team with a losing record, 5-1 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record and 4-1 in their last five overall. This one seems poised to go over the number given the high octane App State offense and the subpar South Alabama defense this season.
Prediction: Over 57
Half-Time Side Pick
Appalachian State has been pretty much unstoppable offensively since the fourth quarter of the Penn State game in the season opener. The Mountaineers are carving up opposing defenses and piling up points as they drive down the field with no regard for the defense. South Alabama has shown some offensive improvement in the last couple of games but the fact remains that they are on the road here and they’re overmatched. Thomas has the Mountaineers firing on all cylinders at the moment and that should be enough to give them the upper hand in this contest at the half.
Prediction: Appalachian State Mountaineers -15
Half-Time Total Bet
The Jaguars’ defense is going to have to be sharp to try and keep the team in the game. The problem for South Alabama is that they’ve been unable to contain opposing teams this season. On the year, the Jaguars have yet to give up less than 30 points in a game and they are 126th in the nation in scoring defense. When you’re facing a team ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense, that’s not the matchup you want to have to lean on. This one should be well over the number by the half if App State plays the way they have recently.
Prediction: Over 30.5 -110