Georgia Southern Eagles (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, North Carolina
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GASO +5.5/APP -5.5
Over/Under Total: Off
The Georgia Southern Eagles come out to North Carolina to face the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Thursday Sun Belt action. Georgia Southern is 5-1, on the heels of five straight wins, including a 3-0 record in conference. On Saturday, the Eagles beat New Mexico State, 56-26. Appalachian State also boasts of a 5-1 mark, including 4 straight wins. On Saturday, the Mountaineers also won a conference game, beating Louisiana-Monroe, 56-14. These two teams are perched above the rest of the conference and this game figures to play a big role into the issue of the eventual winner of the Sun Belt Conference.
Both teams have been very good within their own realm. In both of their losses, they took bad beatings in games where they were out of their element. Appalachian State lost their second game of the season to Clemson, 41-10. And Georgia Southern came up short to West Virginia, 44-0, in their season opener. Both have righted the ship since those defeats.
Appalachian State has done remarkably well other than the loss to Clemson, who is now ranked 6th in the nation by the way. In their 5 wins, they have outscored opponents, 225-30. Well see if that same level of menace holds up against Georgia Southern, a higher-caliber bunch than what the Mountaineers have been facing. But make no mistake; Appalachian State is a heck of a team, at least in this context. As exhibited by their recent form, the defense isnt allowing much of anything. If not for the 41 they gave up to Clemson, theyd be the top-ranked defense in the nation across some different categories. Its a well-rounded defense that thrives both against the run and the pass. Theyve registered two shutouts already this season, while allowing only a field goal in another game.
The Mountaineers dont throw a ball a ton, but that doesnt mean they dont get production out of the aerial game. Taylor Lamb only completed 8 passes on Saturday, but to the tune of 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. The passing game features a slew of deep threats. The running game is led by Marcus Cox, who has nearly 700 yards. Lamb is also nifty with his feet and has scored two touchdowns on the ground. They average 6 yards per run as a team, with different guys stepping up to create big runs, all behind a bulky line that opens up holes. With the run game putting up an average of almost 300 yards per game and Lamb throwing 15 touchdowns, this is a pretty good offense with some balance and explosive potential.
Georgia Southern has scored between 43 and 56 points in all five of their wins since their week one loss. They are ranked as the top-ranked rushing team in the country, averaging nearly 400 yards on the ground per game. They barely throw the ball, opting for a run-heavy approach with different packages and approaches. On Saturday, quarterback Kevin Ellison threw their first passing TD in a year. The ground-attack is led by Matt Breida, who has 875 yards on over 10 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns through 6 games. L.A. Ramsby is another key component to the offense, as he has run for 6 touchdowns, while Wesley Fields and Ellison have added 5 apiece. So far this season, the Eagles have scored 29 touchdowns on the ground at over 7 yards per carry. Look for things to get appreciably more-difficult this week.
Georgia Southern has been scoring some convincing victories, but nothing compared to the sheer dominance shown by Appalachian State. Still, in their five wins, theyve scored a robust 242 points, while giving up 107. Its a bit hard to judge, as their opposition has been weak. With the way the Appalachian State defense has been playing, you wonder if Georgia Southern will be able to run the ball like theyve been doing or if the one-dimensional approach will cost them against the better-balanced Mountaineers.
These two teams played each other over a year ago in September of last season. A lot of things have changed on both sides of the ball. But Georgia Southern did win rather convincingly, 34-14. Both Ellison and Breida were big, as the Eagles were over 400 in rushing yards, while holding the Mountaineers to very little on the ground. Appalachian States Trevor Lamb threw 2 picks and the offense never got untracked. A lot of the players who thrived against this Appalachian State team are still there and expect to have a good game. Thing is, the Mountaineers defense appears to have taken a big step forward in 2015.
This one is at home for Appalachian State, a welcome sight after two straight conference games on the road. That should help them. Theres a revenge factor from last season. Weve seen it before this season, even with teams who lost lopsidedly the previous season, where the tables get turned. This is only the second season where Appalachian State is a full FBS participant and the fact that they hit the ground running says a lot. They ended last season with 6 straight wins and only a loss against Clemson spoils a perfect record this season.
This is a tough one to call. Georgia Southern is up against it, facing a peaking team that has seen a lot of positive developments in their program since losing to them last year. But in a game that looks hard to call, Im inclined to take the team getting points that won by 20 the last time they played.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Georgia Southern Eagles plus 5.5 points.
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