Appalachian State (2-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) vs New Mexico State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt)
Saturday, October 7th, 2017 3:30pm 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
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 67.40
New Mexico State: 58.11
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 11 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -10.5
Series: App State leads 1-0
Last meeting: App State 37, New Mexico State 7, November 26th, 2016
The last two weeks, have felt like years. Bye weeks can be like that, forget what happened in the previous game. Forget that the last opponent was a long lost rival, a game that had been eagerly anticipated, and ended with an unfortunate thud. I’ll never look at the number 19 the same ever again. The 19th amendment of the US Constitution gave women the right to vote, but I’ll be thinking about Wake Forest. Adele’s debut album was titled “19”, but I’ll be thinking about untimely penalties against Wake Forest. The atomic number of Potassium is 19, which has the oddest symbol of the periodic table; the letter “K”. In that football game we all love, the letter K stands for kicker, and of course the kicks we didn’t convert against Wake Forest. So the next time you eat a banana, you’ll think about Wake Forest. Try and forget that for the time being, and lets turn our focus to an improved New Mexico State team that looks to make a statement on their way out of the Sun Belt. Their sites are set on a bowl game, and they have an offense that can make that happen, especially in a down year for the Sun Belt. It’s rare that Appalachian loses a Homecoming game, but the Aggies are just the kind of team that can make it interesting.
Even though New Mexico State sits below .500 on the season, their losses are extremely respectable. Arizona State & Troy were lucky enough to get by in one possession games, and Arkansas got up early and held serve for the remainder of the game last weekend. The wins the Aggies have under their belt are against New Mexico and UTEP. Two teams that mean so much from a rivalry perspective, that wins over those schools were included in Doug Martin’s new contract that didn’t increase his salary but was very incentive laden. A victory over either school gives Martin a $5,000 bonus. He’ll also receive an additional $20,000 bonus for six wins or a bowl invite.
New Mexico State was trending up last year. Remember, the Mountaineers and Aggies teed it up in one of the final games of the 2016 season. New Mexico State beat Louisiana last year, and should have beaten Georgia Southern. They played South Alabama within a touchdown on the road in their final game. This improvement was in the works last season. Now they had their blowout games, but that hasn’t been the case this year. They lost to Arkansas by 18 points. In 2016, they had six such losses of 18 points or more.
The Aggies employ a typical three headed monster on offense, a tall pocket passer behind center, a very experienced running back and big target to throw to down the field. Tyler Rogers missed the App game last year due to a injury in practice the week of the game. Rogers is in the top ten in the country in several passing categories. Not in the Sun Belt, in the country. This is a team that likes to toss the ball around the yard. Rogers trails only UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph in passing yards. He’s fifth nationwide with 15 touchdown passes. His favorite target, Jaleel Scott has 543 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Scott can catch the ball all over the field and has sure hands. His lanky frame doesn’t have blazing speed, but his wide catch radius makes it easy on Rogers to find him. Larry Rose III ranks in the top ten for active FBS running backs in his career. Despite averaging just over four yards a carry, Rose III also an impact with his receiving skills, as he has snagged twenty-two passes this season. As Rose III goes, so do the Aggies. He has 38 carries for 243 yards in two Aggie wins, and just 33 carries for 154 yards in their losses.
Appalachian took the lead away from Wake Forest on three different occasions the last time out. They had nine more first downs, nearly two hundred more yards passing, and still outpossesed the Deacons by nearly eleven and a half minutes. It was a game that featured fewer than forty points, but only four punts, and zero turnovers. Taylor Lamb had a big day, with 372 passing yards, spread out among eight different receivers, all catching at least two passes. The Mountaineer running game is still a work in progress, but Terrance Upshaw worked hard for 86 yards whole Jalin Moore struggled and was clearly not 100% healthy.
A lot of the talk leading up this game has centered around the New Mexico State offense, and how much better they are. A good offense can help a defense improve just by default really. More time to rest and adjust, and you can pay defense a lot looser with the lead. While Appalachian was resting last weekend, preparing for the Aggies, the New Mexico State defense spent 41 minutes on the field defending the Razorbacks. Arkansas churned out a balanced 494 yards of total offense. At halftime of that game, Coach Doug Martin was interviewed, and mentioned that he was surprised how much Arkansas threw the ball. Immediately, all I could think about was him perhaps saying the exact same thing the following week. Out of necessity, the Mountaineers have been putting the ball up in the air more often. Now, that New Mexico State defense doesn’t really do anything exceptionally well. They are ranked in the mid-80’s in total defense, which is below average, and that team has a lot of travel miles on them between games. They have forced a few turnovers, but most of those came in their blowout of UTEP where they snatched five interceptions. UTEP started 0-5 this season and their coach just resigned. To quickly summarize, that is where this game is going to be won and lost. I have no doubt that New Mexico State might get a bunch of yards, but they have to be able to finish. App State has one of the best red-zone defenses in the country, allowing just five touchdowns in twelve attempts on the young season. The Aggies will have some drives, but App has also done well in forcing three and outs all season. The Apps must cut off those drives quickly and keep the New Mexico State offense off the field.
The First Pick
Toy Guns 21