Here we go with Week 3:
Northern Arizona @ Appalachian State
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.93 points
ASU is favored to win by 32.5 points
Series: first meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Finally, the celebration is over. No more thinking about what has happened in the past. Sure, media folks will continue to talk about the biggest upset in college football until the end of the season. Luckily, most of the TV cameras have left Boone for the time being and are fixated on Ann Arbor. That is perfectly fine with me. Appalachian State is getting ready for a Northern Arizona team that plans on breaking a couple streaks that the Mountaineers own. Not if Jerry Moore and company have anything to do with it. Winning 28 straight home games is something to be proud of, as is owning the nation’s longest active win streak, which is 16 games. Yeah, those Lumberjacks from the left coast will travel right around 1800 miles and play a football game about 3,000 feet below their home stadium. Does anyone else think they might be a little wore out by the time the game starts? Either way, this week will be the first true test for both teams as they try to find out where they stand in the FCS.
Northern Arizona will come to Boone with pretty high hopes. They will also be carrying the conference banner in hopes of trying to regain some clout the Big Sky lost when they sent their second best team last year to Kidd Brewer Stadium in the second round of the playoffs. ASU was able to defeat Montana State in that game, 38-17. Last year, Northern Arizona lost to Montana State in Flagstaff by a touchdown 39-32. The Lumberjacks finished the 2006 season at 6-5, with losses coming to I-A’s Utah and Arizona State. The other three losses came to playoff participants Montana, Montana State and a team many considered to be the last one out of the playoff’s, Portland State.
Northern Arizona will start Lance Kriesien at quarterback. Before this season, Kriesien had only attempted 12 passes in his college career. This season, Kriesien has completed 38 of his 65 attempts for 375 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kriesien also punted 3 times against Arizona in the 45-24 setback. Kriesen has completed 18 of his 38 completions to Payton Award candidate Alex Watson. On four occasions last season, Alex Watson caught 12 passes or more in a game. Make no mistake, they like to get the ball in his hands. Watson finished last season with 82 catches for 1,017 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Mountaineers showed on Saturday afternoon that they were not going to have a hangover from the win at Michigan. Trey Elder led the attack as the Mountaineers scored 21 first quarter points and never looked back. Elder threw for 210 yards and 4 touchdowns while running for another 90 yards and another touchdown. Kevin Richardson gained 21 yards on the day, inching closer to John Settle’s record, which is only 845 yards away. Dexter Jackson hauled in two more touchdowns to up his total to 4 touchdowns on the season. All in all, Jackson has 5 catches, all but one going for a touchdown. That’s a pretty good ratio. On the eight scoring drives, the longest was for 3:23, while two “drives” took less than 10 seconds of the clock. Way to give the defense some rest.
The biggest question facing the Apps this week is the status of quarterback Armanti Edwards. I understand Edwards being a little dinged up after the Michigan game and his services were needed for Lenoir Rhyne. If Armanti rests this week, it is going to get people a little worried around the High Country. How hurt is Armanti Edwards? I don’t want this team to fall behind in the first half and then say, oh well we need to put in Armanti and it be too late in the game to get any chemistry. Regardless, if Armanti puts himself at danger by playing this weekend, I don’t want him to play. I think Trey Elder can lead this team to victory. Northern Arizona runs a very rare defense in college. The Lumberjacks will line up in the 3-4 defense. It will be crucial for the ASU offensive line to play as one unit. Big holes can be opened up when there are only three defensive lineman. I think the combination of Kevin Richardson and Devon Moore are shifty enough to make the NAU linebackers miss. Saturday will be the day the ASU ground attack comes alive. If ASU has to throw the ball, NAU has already intercepted five passes this season and will be looking to add to their totals. On the other side, Alex Watson, meet Jerome Touchstone and safety help from Corey Lynch. No matter the situation, NAU will throw the ball at Watson. If ASU can get a little penetration on the passer and force a rushed throw, look for Corey Lynch to come swooping in. NAU will come out slinging the ball either way. The ASU secondary must be on guard for anything. Watson has been known to run a reverse and throw an option pass in the past. Surely NAU will pull out all the stops to knock off the nation’s number one team. ASU must be ready for anything.
The First Pick:
Not quite Big Sky 16