Tag Archives: Appalachian State

NCAAF Conference Championships 2018

It is defacto quarterfinals weekend for many teams – its time for the Conference Championships in College Football!  With CFP spots still on the line, there is a lot up for grabs going into this weekend.  With that, let’s go into all of the Conference Championship games this weekend:

MAC Championship – Northern Illinois v Buffalo (Friday, 7:00pm, ESPN2)

A loss two weeks ago against Ohio stopped the Bulls chances of being ranked in the final CFP poll dead in their tracks, but they do get a matchup with perennial top MAC foe Northern Illinois, who is coming out of a very weak Western division.  Buffalo has been outscoring opponents big time this year, scoring over 30 points nine times this season and gets an NIU team that has been allowing more points than they’ve scored on average (19.9 to 20.9).  Quarterback Tyree Jackson has been leading the offense for the Bulls this season and doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.
MY PICK: Buffalo over Northern Illinois, 34 – 14

Pac-12 Championship – Utah v Washington (Friday, 8:00pm, FOX)

Two great offenses face off in Santa Clara as a Rose Bowl bid is on the line.  The Huskies won in this spot two years ago while Utah looks for its first Pac-12 title.  These two teams played in Salt Lake City back in September, with Washington getting the best of the Utes.  But that was before Kyle Whittingham’s team got it going on all cylinders.  Jake Browning and Miles Gaskin came alive last week against Washington State, but the Huskies have looked like a different team when they leave their home state.  This should be thrilling and a close one.
MY PICK: Washington over Utah, 27 – 24

Big 12 Championship – Texas v Oklahoma (Saturday, 12:00pm, ABC)

The first Red River Shootout this year was one of the best games of the year, so why not do it again.  Revenge is on the line in Jerry-World, as the Sooners look to win round two against hated rival Texas.  The savior of the Longhorns program, Sam Ehlinger, and Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray look to duel it out.  A month ago, Texas looked as if all hope was lost in getting here, with back to back losses at Oklahoma State and against West Virginia, but the pieces fell in place.  Meanwhile, the Oklahoma offense has gotten the best of the rest of its foes – outscoring each since that fated day at the Cotton Bowl – although allowing monster points and yards in doing so.  Offensives will be on display in a true shootout.
MY PICK: Oklahoma over Texas, 52 – 46

Sun Belt Championship – Louisiana v Appalachian State (Saturday, 12:00pm, ESPN)

One of the most well put together and veteran teams of the Group of Five, Appalachian State, tries to go 6-0 against Louisiana in the first ever Sun Belt Championship game.  In their now five years in the Sun Belt, App State has had a share of the Sun Belt title in the last two, but looks for their first outright this year.  Louisiana gets here with first year head coach Billy Napier and off of great offensive play, with a 2000 yard passer in Andre Nunez and a 1000 yard rusher in Trey Ragas.  The Ragin’ Cajun’s have had one of the best scoring offenses in the Sun Belt this year and looks to avenge the loss they had right on this field just over a month ago; that win for the Mountaineers gave them their first AP Top 25 ranking.  A strong rushing game by Darrynton Evans will be the key for App State here.
MY PICK: Appalachian State over Louisiana, 38-21

C-USA Championship – UAB v Mid Tennessee (Saturday, 1:30pm, CBSSN)

This isn’t de-ja-vu, UAB and MTSU will be at it again in Murfreesboro for the second straight weekend.  The Blue Raiders stifled the Blazers offense last week, holding them to 3 points and 89 total yards.  I highly doubt we will see that type of game again this week, but UAB is going to need to improve greatly to be even in this game.  The Blazers offense has to run through receiver Xavier Ubosi, who has been having a great senior season.  In just its second year back from the football program being shutdown, UAB has really bounced back and no matter what the outcome is on Saturday, should be proud of making it to this point.
MY PICK: Mid Tennessee over UAB, 33-27

American Championship – Memphis v UCF (Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC)

Memphis has yet to beat UCF since they’ve been playing regularly in 2005, but they haven’t been playing like they are outmatched.  The last two matchups, here last year in this game and earlier this season, have been thrilling editions of what could be the next American Athletic Conference rivalry.  With Milton going down last week, possibly ending his career, Darriel Mack, Jr. will be leading the Golden Knights when they hit the field in Orlando.  Close friends with Mackenzie Milton, Mack will need his best to outscore a Memphis Tigers offense that has been on fire this season.  If you thought that the Big 12 Championship will be high scoring, this could very well top it.
MY PICK: UCF over Memphis, 58 – 52

SEC Championship – Alabama v Georgia (Saturday, 4:00pm, CBS)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game, which was the birth of the Tua era at Alabama, and of the 2012 SEC Championship Game looks to be the best game of the day.  Nick Saban looks to continue what is arguably the best season by a college football team since the 1888 Yale Football Team (who outscored opponents 694-0).  However, this will be the first challenge that Alabama will face this season, and they have not looked in the mindset these past two weeks, being tied 10-10 at halftime to FCS team The Citadel two weeks ago and struggling in the first half against Auburn; they pulled out both games in the second half, but looked far from the team was the first ten games of the season.  The Tide have won four straight in this rivalry, but all guns will be blazing in what could end up being a prelude to a possible rematch in the National Title Game this year if certain things fall in line.  By the way, Saban looks to go 16-0 against former assistants.
MY PICK: Alabama over Georgia, 34 – 24

Mountain West Championship – Fresno State v Boise State (Saturday, 7:45pm, ESPN)

The Broncos have made it (and hosted) three MW Title Games, each time having to duel it out with the Bulldogs.  They’ve won the last two, but this year they go up against the best Fresno State team they’ve faced.  These two teams played on the Smurf Turf in early November, a 24-17 Broncos win, but was one that could have gone either way.  The Bulldogs defense has been solid in their last two while the Broncos offense is firing.  Get ready for a good ole fashion matchup in Idaho.
MY PICK: Fresno State over Boise State, 28 – 27

ACC Championship – Clemson v Pittsburgh (Saturday, 8:00pm, ABC)

Clemson looks to be the first team in over two decades to win, outright, four straight conference titles.  But standing in their way is a Pittsburgh team that has never lost to Clemson, beating the Tigers in 2016 in Death Valley.  This is a much improved Pitt team, although they have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season.  One of the major pitfalls of Dabo lead Clemson teams – they struggle against strong running teams.  Pittsburgh loves to power through and run the rock; don’t write off the Panthers – even after they only put up 3 on Miami.
MY PICK: Clemson over Pittsburgh 32 – 21

Big Ten Championship – Northwestern v Ohio State (Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX)

The Buckeyes snuck into this game after upsetting Michigan.  They haven’t looked all that great this season, especially throughout the second half of the year, but they have gotten past these slow, defense first teams, very well, like Minnesota and Michigan (and what Northwestern runs).  Pat Fitzgerald was asked  before the season, after his third 10 win season and being ranked 17, what was next for his program and he said “win the Big Ten.”  Now, he is one step away from that.  This is a huge hurdle, but the Wildcats defense has been stopping potent offenses in their tracks.  Dwayne Haskins has struggled majorly when defenses can get pressure – and this is a defense that can get a hand in your face.
MY PICK: Northwestern over Ohio State, 21 – 18

College Football 2018 Week 10 Bets

In the middle of one of the biggest betting weekends of the year in horse racing, I still find some time to make college football upset picks.  Of course, with the first CFP Poll out and season altering games such as Alabama-LSU, Notre Dame-Northwestern, Georgia-Kentucky, and Michigan-Penn State, this is a weekend to sit down and just enjoy all the action.  Here are my five upsets of the Saturday card:

Season: 12-13 (8 Outright)

  • AIR FORCE (+6.5) at Army
    • The Commander-In-Chief Trophy is on the line when these two military academies face off.  Air Force has already beaten Navy and a win over Army would see the Trophy come back west.  Air Force has the points scoring offense to match up with Army very well and this should be anything but a blow out either way.  A close game that might be decided by just a point.
  • IOWA (+3.0) at Purdue
    • The Boilermakers are still riding high off of their win against Ohio State, at least in the eyes of Vegas.  They didn’t look too great against Michigan State last week (but good enough to keep it close) but now face an Iowa team that wants revenge after last week’s loss in Happy Valley.  Watch out for the Hawkeyes.
  • PENN STATE (+12.0) at Michigan
    • 12 points is a huge line to give an in-conference rival.  Especially one that hasn’t lost by double digits in two years (though that game was against Michigan, and in the Big House).  I’m under the belief that Penn State’s offense will find ways to score and keep them in this game, one that could easily become a shootout.
  • COASTAL CAROLINA (+14.0) v Appalachian State
    • Last week, App State saw their quarterback Zak Thomas go down with an injury.  He has since been day-to-day and mainly sitting out of reps instead of practicing.  While I do think they still will win, the Chanticleers have been rolling strong and should put up a test to the bruised Mountaineers, keeping this game close on the surf turf.
  • TEXAS TECH (+13.5) v Oklahoma
    • It has been just a bit over two years since Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes dueled out in an absolute offensive onslaught in Lubbock.  Now the teams meet again under the lights at Jones AT&T Stadium.  The Red Raiders have been playing with a much better defense than previous years and have been scoring at will against many good teams; meanwhile Oklahoma has been on a tear since their loss in the Red River Shootout.  This could be another memorable classic, and one that should be decided by whoever has the ball last.

(All spreads from ESPN)

Mountaineer Magic in the Fun Belt

The Mountaineers have been hot this year! No… not those Mountaineers from the Big 12, the Mountaineers of the Sun Belt.  Calling Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina their home, the Mountaineers of Appalachian State have been on a roll this season, allowing just 32 points in their last four games, and not allowing a single point in the second half to teams since their OT loss at Penn State week one – no other team can say that.  And we haven’t even talked a bit about any of their players.

Everyone remembers eleven years ago, when the defending back-to-back FCS National Champion walked into the Big House in the first live football action on the Big Ten Network, and stunned the college football world with a win over No. 5 Michigan.  Most couldn’t tell you what an Appalachian State was, or where they came from, or if they even knew how to play football (well… they do, in case you were wondering).  But this upstart program was far from a shocker, rather it is a program laced with history.

In 1928, a school from Boone, North Carolina, then known as the Appalachian State Normal School, put an English professor, Graydon Poe Eggers, in charge of their first football team (he would later coach their basketball team).  Although going 3-6 in their first season (a season where the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado and USC Trojans would win the National Title), it would be 1 of only 5 losing seasons for the school before 1955.  The next season, they named C. B. Johnston as head coach, a student of the six time National Champion winning Michigan coach Fielding Yost, where he led them to their first Conference Title in 1931.  But true success wouldn’t come until Duke All-American Pierce “Kidd” Brewer stepped up to the plate; in 1937, he led an unbeaten and unscored upon in the regular season Appalachian State team, outscoring opponents 206-0.  He would become the namesake of the App State stadium.

Throughout the 40s and 50s, Appalachian State would continue to perform well in the NAIA, but true success didn’t come until the move to the Southern Conference in the 70s.  Working their way into the NCAA, App State would remain steady for their first decade at the level, playing about .500 ball; in 1975, they would get key wins over East Carolina, Wake Forest, and South Carolina, three wins that went along way to securing App State a spot among the Division 1 teams.  By the 80s, they gave future Texas and Hall of Famer Mack Brown his first head coaching job, before finding their stride with two coaches, Sparky Woods, who would right the ship, and Jerry Moore, who would pilot it.  While Woods may have given App State their first two playoff births in the Division I-AA (now known as FCS), Moore took them to the playoffs in 18 of his 24 seasons at the helm.  Under Moore, they won three back-to-back-to-back FCS National Championships, had two NFL draftees, a Walter Payton Award winner, and became the first ever FCS team to receive votes in a final AP poll.

Of course, as much as history matters to many, it doesn’t matter what a team did in the past – it only matters what they do now… and App State is still doing it.  Since becoming a full time FBS member, they’ve won three straight bowl games, capping them off with a 34-0 win against Toledo in last year’s Dollar General Bowl, took a 9th ranked Tennessee team to OT in Knoxville, had an NFL draftee in Colby Gossett, and took 10th ranked Penn State to OT in Beaver Stadium (fun fact, the Michigan, Tennessee, and Penn State games all occurred on September 1st).  This season, they are averaging nearly 7 yards per play, just about 10 players on average per touchdown, and an 82% red zone scoring percentage.

The star of this team, quarterback Zac Thomas.  This sophomore lead his team out for the first time at Beaver Stadium, one of the toughest places to play, especially for a new quarterback.  Being calm and cool in the pocket, he led drive after drive, for 270 yards through the air, another 43 on the ground, and 3 total touchdowns, putting the Mountaineers in position to upset a pre-season pick for National Champion.  While they only got into OT, Appalachian State garnered enough attention to gain some votes in the Coaches Poll (although the AP Poll remained silent).  He followed up with a perfect 14 for 14 day at Charlotte, with 4 total touchdowns in the route on the road.  After their loss to Penn State, the Mountaineers would outscore opponents 204-32; Kidd Brewer would be proud.  During that time, Zac Thomas would account for 16 of the team’s 28 offensive touchdowns, with WR Corey Sutton, Kansas State transfer and life long App State fan, catching 4 of those, including a 90 yard touchdown.  Jalin Moore, who was the standout star coming into the season, reached 400 yards and six touchdowns before his most-likely season ending injury on Tuesday against Arkansas State; Moore had back-back 1000 yard rushing seasons coming into this season, and was well on pace for another.\

Now, they are creeping their way up into the Top 25, trying to join the 2016 Troy team as the only Sun Belt teams to ever be ranked in the AP Top 25.  They currently sit with 11 points on the AP Poll (good enough for 31st) and 38 points in the Coaches’ Poll (good enough for 29th).  Do they have the wins at top ranked teams like many others on the polls – no.  Do they have the toughest schedule in the nation – definitely not.  Do they have all the national eyes on them – no.  But what they do have, wins – only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin have had more wins in their last 50 games than App State has.  And they just keep on winning.

With strength on offense and defense, Appalachian State deserves respect.  While they never will be said in the same breath as the Bamas and Ohio States of the world, they will keep on winning, the Rock will keep on rocking, and the Mountaineers will be a Group of Five team to watch for years to come, especially with games at North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Miami, Texas A&M, and Clemson scheduled over the next ten years.

So, AP Poll, Coaches Poll – you watching?