Here we go with Week 10:
#2 Appalachian State (7-2, 5-0 1st) @ Chattanooga (1-8, 0-5 9th)
Stadium: Finley Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.79 points
ASU is favored by the Sagarin rankings by 33 ½ points (rounded).
Series: ASU leads 21-10
Last Meeting: ASU 37, UTC 17; November 17th 2007
The Mountaineers have survived the so called gauntlet of their schedule by defeating Georgia Southern, Furman and Wofford in consecutive weeks and find themselves in a very familiar situation. Appalachian controls its own destiny for the rest of the regular season. As long as the Mountaineers continue the winning ways, a fourth straight conference championship is on the horizon. Standing in their way is a very emotionally defeated Chattanooga football team, who has suffered from a difficult schedule and the announcement that their head coach will not be returning next season. This scenario is very scary for a team that has just played its most complete game of the season. Appalachian could be in for a wake up call. In 2006, Appalachian was just starting to hit their stride when they blitzed the Mocs on the way to a 56-21 victory. However, Mountaineer fans will never forget what happened the last time they Mountaineers and Mocs played in an election year. Records were broken left and right when the Mocs stunned Appalachian in an offensive shootout, 59-56. Will Appalachian guard against a letdown on Saturday afternoon, or can the Mocs do the unthinkable and go win one for the coach?
As previously mentioned, Chattanooga was given a tough task of facing two of the most prestigious college football programs in the country in Oklahoma and Florida State. After sandwiching a win over Division II Cumberland between the losses to Oklahoma and Florida State, the Mocs suddenly faced a different Jacksonville State team than they imagined, as Ryan Perrilloux had transferred in from Louisiana State. After another loss, the Mocs faced the “App State Gauntlet” in Furman, Georgia Southern and Wofford and suffered heavy defeats from all three of those opponents. Followed by those losses was another blowout loss to Elon and a very disappointing loss to Western Carolina, who snapped their conference losing streak at 20 games. It seems Chattanooga never had a chance in the 2008 season.
Chattanooga’s problems are pretty obvious. All season, they have had trouble scoring, and stopping other teams from scoring. The Mocs are being outscored by an averaged of 26 points pre game. Their defense is last in the conference in total yards and their offense is in the same predicament. In fact they are last or next to last in 18 statistical categories. Part of the issues have surfaced due to inconsistent quarterback play. Three players have logged time on the field for the Mocs. Only Jare Gualt has played in all nine games. Gualt has lead the Mocs with 665 yards passing with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Sloan Allison, son of head coach Rodney, has thrown for 243 yards. Allison has zero touchdown passes and seven interceptions in only 67 attempts. Tony Pastore has been the most efficient option for the Mocs with 456 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Pastore averages a decent 7.72 yards per attempt. All told, Moc quarterbacks have eight touchdown passes and 15 interceptions on the season. Their favorite target has been Clint Woods who has 40 catches for 430 yards and two touchdowns. The running game has been led by Erroll Wynn (56 ypg) and Shaun Kermah (24 ypg).
Against the Terriers, the Mountaineers took a page out of the Mike Ayers playbook and forced five turnovers and gave none away in what turned into a blowout win for Appalachian. The game was tightly contested until Mark Legree picked off the first of his three interceptions in the first quarter that eventually gave the Mountaineers a two touchdown margin. Wofford had trouble containing the Appalachian passing game. Armanti Edwards threw for 367 yards and five touchdowns, all to freshman. Receiver Brian Quick was the beneficiary of three touchdowns and tight end Ben Jorden caught two first quarter touchdown passes as well.
Besides the three interceptions by Mark Legree, the rest of the Mountaineer defense only allowed Wofford to convert 36% on their third down conversions and allowed no fourth down conversions. Despite giving Wofford all the yardage they wanted in the running game, it was the first half turnovers that really made the difference. By the time the dust had settled in the first half, the Mountaineers had built a 42-14 halftime lead that was too big for the Terriers to overcome.
Last week, all the chips were stacked against Wofford, which favored Appalachian. The previous week, Wofford had put 55 points on the board against Elon in a very intense game. The same happened for the Mountaineers last week. In a very similar situation, the Mountaineers responded with 70 points, while Wofford could only muster 24 points. The same could happen to Appalachian against Chattanooga. It is highly unlikely the Mountaineers will put up another high number against the Mocs. Although, I would never bet against this offense to do it, it is just not going to happen. The difference is, Appalachian is not playing a terrific defense in Chattanooga. A game like Appalachian and Chattanooga has now been labeled in the college football world as a “trap game”. Appalachian played a high profile opponent last week and will come off of that high and play a team that appears to be a significantly lesser challenge, right before playing another big game against Elon. If the Mountaineers travel to Chattanooga thinking they are going to roll over the Mocs, they are mistaken. The Chattanooga players will like to send their lame duck coach off into the sunset with a victory before the season is over. There is no bigger giant on their schedule besides Appalachian State. However, Jerry Moore will have his players prepared and focused. You simply cannot take a week off in the Southern Conference and Moore has learned that lesson all too well with past teams. The Mountaineers have not lost a conference road game in November since that fateful night in Cullowhee in 2004 and I do not see it happening this week.
The First Pick:
Thomas the Train 10
Train Wreckers 42