Appalachian State is better than it looked in a nationally televised game last week, so look for the Mountaineers to rebound as home underdogs vs. South Alabama Saturday.
The home underdog has a legitimate chance to post its first win over an FBS school on Saturday since becoming an FBS member for the first time this season when the South Alabama Jaguars (2-2, 2-2 ATS) pay a visit to those Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-3, 1-3 ATS) at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC at 6:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The posted line at Bet365 for this contest is Appalachian State +3½ at current odds of -110.
Lost Battle of Conference Newcomers
Appalachian State played its first Sun Belt Conference game in school history last week on national television vs. fellow BCS and conference newcomers Georgia Southern, and were soundly beaten 34-14. Still, keep in mind that Georgia Southern had lost narrowly to the likes of Georgia Tech and NC State this season, so losing to them on the road in that circumstance is not as bad as the score would indicate.
In somewhat of an oddity, South Alabama has gone 2-0 on the road after its win at Idaho last week, but the Jaguars have been losing college football picks in both of their home games. Besides the win at Idaho though, the other USA road win was at Kent State, so they have not exactly been beating powerhouses in their travels and were in fact actually favored in both of their road wins.
Still Averaging 400 Yards
Appalachian State made its FBS debut against the team against whom it pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history while it was an FCS program, revisiting Ann Arbor but this time losing 52-14 to the Michigan Wolverines. The bright side of that game was that the Mountaineers amassed 153 rushing yards on 4.3 yards per carry vs. a Big Ten defense, and they have continued to run the ball well ever since.
In fact, Appalachian State is averaging a commendable 400.7 total yards overall over its first four games as an FBS school. The running game is the key here though because South Alabama is having a tough time stopping it, ranking 89th in the country in rushing defense permitting 179.2 rushing yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry. Thus the Mounties should be able to run effectively and control Time of Possession at home, which is a nice trait for an underdog.
Enough Offense to be Road Favorites?
Also, while the defensive stats of each of these teams are very similar with each club allowing exactly 370.0 total yards per game, Appalachian State did it vs. a tougher schedule and we are not sure that the South Alabama offense is good enough to merit being a road favorite in this spot.
After all, USA is ranked 120th in the country in scoring with 16.5 points per game and 104th in total offense at 354.3 yards per contest. And the Jags were even worse than that before totaling 34 points and 429 yards vs. a bad Idaho defense last week, which is something that we do not expect them to replicate here.
Home Sweet Home
Finally, Appalachian must be glad to be home after playing its first three FBS games on the road at Michigan, Georgia Southern and also at Sothern Miss, a game that ended in a narrow 21-20 loss when the Mountaineers miss the extra point following what should have been the tying touchdown with six seconds left. Yes they have a dominant 66-0 home win over Campbell of the FCS, but the crowd should be excited here for the first home game vs. an FBS foe.
We could easily see Appalachian State pulling the outright upset in this spot, but at the very least look for the Mountaineers to cover this point spread of more than a field goal at home on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Appalachian State +3½ (-110)