Here we go with Week 12
Appalachian State (8-3, 6-1 Sun Belt) @ New Mexico State (3-7, 2-4 Sun Belt)
Saturday, November 26th, 2016 4pm est
Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WGVZ ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450, WHKP 107.7 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490, WAZZ 94.3 Fayetteville; WPWT 870 AM, 100.7 FM Bristol/Johnson City, TN
Aggie Memorial Stadium
Surface: Synthetic Turf
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 71.34
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 21 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -17.5
Series: First Meeting
Last meeting: n/a
Two weekends ago was not an ideal situation. But this past week, could not have been written any better. Marcus Cox etched his name deeper into the App State annals by becoming the program’s all time leading rusher on a twenty-five yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The game was long decided, but up until that run, it was somewhat in doubt whether or not Cox would reach the record in his final game at The Rock. Cox managed two carries for 17 yards in the first quarter, and ended the first half with 61 yards on eight carries, not quite halfway to the 137 yards he needed. But the third quarter was a different story. Nine carries for 55 yards made breaking the record almost inevitable, and the deed was done on his third carry of the fourth quarter. Cox was buoyed by big runs all game long, registering six that went for 12 or more yards. Most of us have been very fortunate to witness the greatness of this program over the last few decades. We all knew that Kevin Richardson would have a chance to chase down John Settle. We all knew that Kevin Richardson’s record would be broken eventually, but Marcus Cox topped him in quick fashion. The only doubt was the injury Cox suffered earlier in the year, not knowing when he would return to action. We have all been witnesses to individual history, but football is a team game and chasing a second consecutive ten-win season is the next hurdle for the Mountaineers.
Finally, after three seasons, Appalachian will have played all members of the Sun Belt in its twenty-fourth conference game. App has played five Sun Belt teams three times before finally heading to Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Mountaineers will play New Mexico State again next season in Boone, and then likely never again, as the Aggies were not extended a invitation to remain in the Sun Belt, and has opted to go independent in 2018. This has been the second stint in the Sun Belt for New Mexico State, and likely their last. The Aggies seem to have the worst luck over the course of the program’s existence as they have dealt with being indepedent on more than one occasion and were in the WAC when several teams left to join other conferences, leading to the ultimate death of football in the Western Athletic Conference. It seems nobody really wants New Mexico State at their party.
It has been since 1960 that New Mexico State has played in a bowl game, which is the longest streak in the country. The Aggies have played in three bowls games in their history without losing one, and have four conference titles to their name over the course of 118 years of football. The last season New Mexico State finished with a winning record was in 2002, and the time before that as 1978. The program has won just 40% of their games they have played.
This year’s Aggie team is making strides under fourth year head coach Doug Martin. They have found some offense in 2016 and knocked off Lousiana-Lafayette for the second straight season back in October. Their 3-7 record could be much better if they had not lost the services of star running back Larry Rose III for three games. Rose III was basically a twenty carry running back prior to his injury, and has been eased back. Last week in the win over Texas State, Rose III looked like his old self with 168 yards on the ground. The 50-10 win was the most lopsided of the season, as the Texas State busses were involved in an accident en route to the game, which was eventually delayed.
New Mexico State is the top passing offense in the Sun Belt as junior Tyler Rogers has tossed at least one touchdown pass in every game except one this season. He has eclipsed three hundred yards on three occasions, including a 445 yard performance against Troy where he was bogged down with five interceptions. Despite leading the conference in yards, as a team New Mexico State is only eighth of eleven Sun Belt teams in passing efficiency. The Aggies are one of four Sun Belt teams coming in at under seven yards per pass attempt. The volume comes from game flow, and when teams know its coming, its easier to defend down the field and in the pocket. The Aggies give up three sacks per game, while the Mountaineers are tied with Troy sacking the opposing quarterback twenty-six times this season.
We suggested the cure for the App State offense would be Monroe, and boy was it. The Mountaineers put up a season high 637 yards of offense, powered by a 429 yard effort on the ground, which was also a season high. The result was a 9.2 yards per play average, which is basically unheard of. Taylor Lamb was solid with a 208 yard game, including his sixtieth career touchdown pass to Ike Lewis from sixty yards out. Lamb added 92 yards on the ground while Jalin Moore chipped in a ho-hum 135 rushing yards on thirteen carries. The offense will look to feast again on a very subpar defense that ranks 118th in the country.
As much as Monroe was improving last week, we can not go with out saying how much better New Mexico State has played at home this season. All three wins by the Aggies this season have come at home, and their only home loss was to Georgia Southern, who they really should have beat. New Mexico State exploded for fifty points last week, which may have more to do with Texas State’s unfortunate drive to the game than what the Aggies were able to do. Texas State turned the ball over five times and likely had their minds somewhere else. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they face a statistical mismatch against the Mountaineers. The Aggies are going to need Appalachian to be completely uninterested in playing, force turnovers and score points on almost every possession. That is unlikely to happen, as the Mountaineers have defensively accepted every challenge that has been thrown at them in conference play. Expect the Mountaineers to test the outer edges of the Aggie defense as two of the better linebackers in the league, Rodney Butler and Dalton Herrington man the interior and weak side of the formations. Look for at least one sack from Keenan Gilchrist or Devan Stringer as both New Mexico State starting tackles are freshman.
The First Pick
Toy Guns 13