In its first season of FBS bowl eligibility, Appalachian State ran through the Sun Belt en route to 10 wins. They’ll take on an Ohio squad that will be making its seventh straight bowl appearance. But FBS experience doesn’t mean much in the spread, as the Mountaineers are currently a -7.5 point favorite (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) for the Camellia Bowl played in Montgomery, Ala.
Last year’s Camellia Bowl featured an exciting Game between Bowling Green and South Alabama, in which the MAC team won 33-28.
The advantage App State has in this Game is experience, as they are filled with seniors across the board. That has helped them dominate most teams in the Sun Belt this year on both sides of the field. A home loss to Arkansas State hurt and let the Red Wolves win the conference, but no one else really competed against them this year. The Mountaineers even drew some respect from Clemson in a 41-10 loss early in the season.
Ohio hasn’t had as easy of a time and went on a three-Game losing stretch midway through the season in MAC play. OUtside of that, the Bobcats’ only loss was at Minnesota by a field goal. But those three losses were against high-scoring teams and Ohio just couldn’t keep up.
Appalachian State is a high-scoring team with experience at skill positions to go with a defense that has been stout most of the way. To back that up, they actually held Clemson to 3.2 yards per carry.
But on the offensive side, the Mountaineers have a balanced offense that no one in the Sun Belt has been able to stop. Quarterback Taylor LAmb leads the way with 29 TDs and 8 INTs on the year. He’s had some bad Games (most notably Clemson), but those have been mostly offset by running back Marcus Cox who has 1,261 yards and 8 TDs on the year. He had better numbers last year, but LAmb’s improvement in the passing Game has taken away from Cox’s rushing TDs. No one stands out in the receiving Game, but three receivers have three TDs and two more have six a piece.
Ohio’s defense has been off-and-on, but mostly off against better offenses. They allowed 49 points to Western Michigan and 62 to Bowling Green. App State may not be at those levels, but they still present a high-scoring attack.
The Bobcats only scored 27 points per Game and that may be the main issue in this one. If they can’t keep up on the scoreboard, this one could get away from them.
Senior quarterback Derrius Vick hurt his ankle at the end of the season, and then his backup JD Sprague also got hurt, but after winning the final two Games of the year, it looks like it doesn’t matter who’s in at quarterback. Vick has the experience, but with 10 TDs and 6 INTs on the year, that isn’t saying much. Sprague finished with 7 TDs and one INT on just 87 pass attempts. But this is still an offense that relies heavily on the run, and Sprague probably had more success because he’s a dual-threat QB.
Running backs A.J. OUellette and Daz’mond Patterson have been a one-two punch for most of the year, but OUellette took over late in the year and ran for 261 yards and two touchdowns in the final two Games. Ohio will look to get that ground Game going from the start.
The issue is that Appalachian State has been pretty good at stopping the run. If the Bobcats can’t find room on the ground, they could be in trouble.
This is the first ever meeting between these two schools. The Bobcats have covered in six straight non-Conference Games and the over is 6-0-1 in their last seven vs. the Sun Belt. However, the under has hit in the Mountaineers last five non-Conference Games, while they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five Games overall.
Our Pick – App State has a chance to become the first team to win a bowl Game in it’s first year of eligibility. Can you say motivation?
We mentioned in a previous write up that playing in an early bowl Game isn’t the ultimate goal for most programs. However, for App State, they have to be thrilled. They should be sky high and while their Schedule was considerably weaker than Ohio’s, they had very little trouble with their Conference Schedule with the exception of Arkansas State.
This Game actually opened +10.5 at betonline and the early money has been on Ohio U. Ultimately, if backing App State, you want -7 or less. As of this writing, -7 -115 is the lowest price on this one. With any luck, that number will continue to drop. App State -7 -115 or LESS.