Arkansas St. vs. Appalachian St: Sun Belt College Football Picks

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 1:12 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 1:12 PM UTC

The most important of the six games in Thursday college football action this week? It could be the showdown between Arkansas State and Appalachian State. Check our college football pick.

Red Wolves Look For 4th Sun Belt Title
Arkansas State (5-3, 4-0) was the Sun Belt champion from 2011-13 before Georgia Southern won it last year. The Red Wolves, who have lost to good teams USC, Missouri and unbeaten Toledo this season, have won four in a row. They enter off a 48-34 victory over Georgia State on Saturday. A-State trailed 27-20 at the half, but the Red Wolves defense limited Georgia State to 164 total yards in the second half to outscore the Panthers 28-7. Quarterback Fredi Knighten was 21-for-29 for 224 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. He also rushed 19 times for 54 yards and a touchdown. Warren Wand rushed 11 times for 119 yards and a score.

In Sun Belt play, A-State has averaged 46 points in its up-tempo offense. App State's defense ranks 12th in the nation in total yards allowed. This game marks only the second time in conference history that two unbeaten teams in league play will meet this late in a year. The only time that it happened previously came on Nov. 16, 2002, when North Texas beat New Mexico State 38-27.

The Red Wolves have won 13 of their last 16 conference road games dating back to the 2011 season. Also dating to that season, A-State has a 13-3 record over its last 16 games played in month of November. Arkansas State is 4-4 against the spread on college football odds and 5-3 'over/under.'


App State Avoided Troy Upset
Appalachian State (7-1, 4-0), the former FCS powerhouse that pulled one of the biggest upsets in college football history in 2007 at Michigan, looks like the team to beat in the Sun Belt. The Mountaineers enter on a six-game winning streak and that loss was 41-10 at Clemson, which might win the national championship.

App State, in only its second season as a Sun Belt member, comes off a 44-41 triple-overtime home victory over Troy on Saturday. Stephen Burns, Kennan Gilchrist and Doug Middleton combined to stop a Troy fake field-goal attempt in triple overtime and Zach Matics followed with a 24-yard game-winning kick in the longest game in Kidd Brewer Stadium history. The key play to set up that kick was a 15-yard run by Marcus Cox on third-and-4 from the Troy 19. Appalachian State was outgained 450-432 but never trailed until the first overtime. Cox was a workhorse with a season-high 30 carries for 140 yards. He is two games shy of the program record of 22 100-yard rushing performances, set by John Settle from 1983-86. Quarterback Taylor Lamb was 16-for-26 for 184 yards and two scores and rushed 15 times for 28 yards and two more touchdowns. Defensively, end Ronald Blair had seven tackles, a game-high 2.5 tackles for loss and a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave Appalachian a 7-0 lead 55 seconds into the game.

It was App State's first-ever home overtime and first extra time victory since beating The Citadel 30-27 on Oct. 3, 2009. Appalachian State has won 10 straight Sun Belt games, tied for the fourth-longest conference winning streak in Sun Belt history.

This is the second Thursday night game in App State's history. It beat visiting Georgia Southern 31-13 on Oct. 22. The Mountaineers, who received a few votes in the Associated Press Top 25 this week, are 5-3 ATS on college football picks and 2-6 O/U.


Last Meeting
Appalachian State won 37-32 on Arkansas State on Nov. 15, 2014. Cox rushed 40 times for 229 yards and two scores for the Mountaineers. Lamb passed for 225 yards and two scores. App State actually trailed 20-6 midway through the second quarter but then scored 31 straight. Knighten was 14-for-28 for 148 yards and three scores for Arkansas State but the Red Wolves were outgained 549-314.


Final Analysis
Both teams average at least 35 points per game overall so go 'over' the total. Take App State on the spread. A-State is 1-5 ATS in its past six road games. App State is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The 'over' is 8-1 in the Red Wolves' past nine after a win.

College Football Pick: Appalachian St. -11 & Over 62 at 5Dimes

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