Here we go with Week 12:
Chattanooga (2-8) @ #6 Appalachian State (8-2)
TV: Sports South
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin ratings:
Home advantage: 2.64 points
ASU is favored to win by 25 points
Series: ASU leads 20-10
Last Meeting: ASU 56, UTC 21
Entering the final week of the regular season, Appalachian has a chance to do what many thought was nearly impossible as of four weeks ago. With a victory on Saturday against Chattanooga, the Mountaineers will wrap up their third straight conference championship. Despite the outcome, ASU will most likely host a first round playoff game on Thanksgiving weekend. A win also gives the Mountaineers a chance of obtaining one of the top four seeds in the playoffs as well. Before we get ahead of ourselves, ASU must first beat a Chattanooga team that has had a very bumpy season and looks to extract some revenge from the 56-21 blowout win the Mountaineers enjoyed last season. Unfortunately for Chattanooga, it will be Senior Day for one of the best classes to come through Appalachian State University. Among those, Trey Elder, perhaps the best “backup” quarterback, and Kevin Richardson, ASU’s career all-purpose yardage leader and the school’s future all-time leader rusher. Those two and the rest of the class will certainly want go out with a win on Saturday.
Chattanooga shares some of the same weaknesses as Western Carolina. The Mocs have problems stopping the running game. They are giving up over 200 yards on the ground a game. In the games where Chattanooga really struggled, its when they couldn’t stop the likes of Arkansas’ Darren McFadden, Wofford’s Josh Collier and The Citadel’s duo of Tory Cooper and Duran Lawson. Those were the games where Chattanooga suffered its most lopsided defeats. That weakness plays right into the hands of Kevin Richardson, who ran for a career best 215 yards against Western Carolina. When you cant stop the run, you cant get your defense off the field. Against Wofford and The Citadel, the Mocs time of possession in both of those games was under 23 minutes. The only bright spot on the Moc defense is linebacker Chris Camacho was has accumulated 91 solo tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
On the offensive side of the ball, Chattanooga has not fared much better. The Mocs are scoring less than 24 points a game and are ranked 94th in total offense with 318 yards a game. Part of the reason they cant move the ball is third downs. The Mocs have only converted a paltry 28% of the third down conversions. Usually third down is considered a down where you see more passing plays then running plays. Chattanooga quarterback Antonio Miller has completed just 51% of his passing attempts for 5.8 yards per attempt. All of this points to a very bad football team.
Against Western Carolina, the Mountaineers sent a message to the entire FCS world by racking up 743 yards of offense and 79 points, the second highest totals in school history. Appalachian quarterbacks connected with ten different receivers and completed 80% of their passes. As previously mentioned, Kevin Richardson ran like he did in the 2006 playoffs. Richardson will most likely set the bar for career rushing at Appalachian as he needs only 27 more yards to break the school record set by John Settle.
This series between these two schools has been that was dominated by Appalachian, but whenever Appalachian has needed a win the most, Chattanooga has more than welcomed the chance to knock the Mountaineers off their perch. In 2004, the Mocs hung on for a three point win as Appalachian went winless on the road that season. In 2000, ASU had a chance at a high seed in the playoffs before Chattanooga kicked a field goal at time expired to win by three points as well. I do not expect to see a three point ball game this week, but we are talking about the 2007 football season, one of the wackiest seasons of recent memory. Appalachian will be too overpowering for the Mocs. The Mocs have had trouble with defending the running game all year long and Appalachian will certainly exploit that weakness. ASU also has a lot riding on this game and they hope to garner playoff seeding possibilities with a victory. Kevin Richardson may break John Settle’s record on the first Mountaineer drive. Senior Trey Elder will hopefully get plenty of playing time as he will play in his last regular season home game. Corey Lynch, Justin Woazeah and Jerome Touchstone will also play their last home game as perhaps one of the best ASU pass defending trios at the school. Kerry Brown will certainly be considered one day for ASU Hall of Fame honors along with teammates on the offensive line Scott Suttle and John Holt. Dexter Jackson will always be remembered as the Sports Illustrated cover boy and Chase Laws as the ultimate team player, as he switched from quarterback to linebacker. Julian Rauch is the school’s all time leading scorer and Nic Cardwell fought through a painful neck injury to play in his senior season. Russell Wilson will never forget making a perfect snap to Hunter Stewart before putting the Apps up two at Michigan. There have been memorable highlights for all of the Appalachian Seniors, but their work is not done. They all understand that the second season is just around the corner. The Apps will not look past Chattanooga on Saturday.
The First Pick:
Hoping for a Seed 56
We’ll see ya’ll in December 20