Blue Raiders Cover & Nearly Upset App State In New Orleans Bowl

Blue Raiders vs Appalachian

Doug Upstone

Friday, December 7, 2018 2:04 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 2:04 PM UTC

Middle Tennessee and Appalachian State play in the last game of the day to open the bowl season on Saturday, Dec. 15th in the New Orleans Bowl. Bet confidently with bowl tips from SBRpicks.com.

New Orleans Bowl: Mid. Tennessee (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Appalachian St. (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS)Saturday, Dec. 15, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, LouisianaFree NCAAF Pick: Middle Tennessee ATSBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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The New Orleans Bowl is one of only five bowls games to feature two teams that played in conference championships. Middle Tennessee is appearing in their fourth straight bowl contest and second New Orleans Bowl (2009) and is 2-5 SU and ATS. Appalachian State has only been an FBS member since 2014, after being a Div.1AA powerhouse and they are making their fourth consecutive bowl appearance and are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS.

How They Got Here

The C-USA college football odds had Middle Tennessee pegged for third-place in the East Division. The Blue Raiders watched others falter and on the final Saturday of the regular season when they defeated UAB and Florida International lost and Middle Tennessee won the East. In spite of what appeared to be favorable circumstances, the Blue Raiders had to face UAB for a second time at home in eight days and fell 27-25. Appalachian State won the SBC East and was the first-ever host in the inaugural Sun Belt Championship and they defeated Louisiana 30-19.

Why Middle Tennessee Can Win/Cover

The opening odds had the Blue Raiders as a seven-point underdog. For years, Middle Tennessee was known as a passing team under coach Rick Stockwell, which was not always a fair assessment. When the Blue Raiders were playing for conference titles like this year, they always were able to run the ball. Middle Tennessee is by no means a great running team ranked 108th in the country in averaging 133.9 YPG, but Stockwell's game plans have always been about probing defensive weaknesses. Though App. State's run defense ranked 30th nationally, on four occasions they permitted 197 or more yards rushing. This is where the Blue Raiders attack the Mountaineers, which sets up their play-action passing offense, that features a 69 percent completion percentage and 254.5 YPG.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Quarterback @bstockstill12 was picked as the @CUSAFB Most Valuable Player on Wednesday. He becomes the second player in @MT_FB history to win the overall league award. #BlueRaiders

Story: https://t.co/NWxsRbdIDJ pic.twitter.com/Q80FzZ20vA

— Middle Tennessee FB (@MT_FB) 5 de dezembro de 2018
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Why Appalachian State Can Win/Cover

App. State lost only twice this season, once to Penn State in OT at their joint and at Georgia Southern when QB Zac Thomas was injured in the first quarter and did not return. Otherwise, the Mountaineers were dominate on the season, outscoring opponents by 21 PPG and outgaining them by 149 yards a contest. App. State controls games by running the ball, listed 15th in FBS at 240.3 YPG. They prefer to run between the tackles, but they also like to use run fakes into the A-gaps and have Thomas or a running back take the ball wide which can lead to big plays. Defensively, the Mountaineers have held opposing teams 90 yards below their average. If App. State is focused, they can contain Middle Tennessee's offense and generate up to 10 negative plays and win by 13 or more points.

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See you at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl! #SunBeltFB Champions! pic.twitter.com/iCx3Uk6lpU

— Appalachian State (@appstate) 1 de dezembro de 2018
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Common Opponent/Series History

This is these team's first-ever confrontation. However, they both did play Charlotte this season. Middle Tennessee won 21-13 as a 15.5-point home favorite, while Appalachian State buried the 49ers 45-9 as 14.5-point away favorites.

Final Verdict

For college football picks, let's be clear, Appalachian State is the better team, having more speed on defense and being physically stronger in the trenches.

If coach Scott Satterfield was still going to be on the sidelines, this would a no-brainer. But Satterfield has taken the Louisville gig and this opens up the dreaded interim coach. How the coaching staff handles this situation is not simple, particularly since the amount of time from their coach leaving until the bowl is less than two weeks, which likely will affect preparation. Add in New Orleans as the site, with distractions everywhere and App. State takes on a different glow.

Middle Tennessee has faced three SEC teams this season and is not going to be intimidated by App. State and the coach's son, Brent is playing his final game for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee is 4-1 ATS as an underdog of 17 or fewer points and 11-3 ATS after one or more straight up losses the last three seasons. Grab the points.

Bowl Prediction: Appalachian State 28, Middle Tennessee 27

New Orleans Bowl Trends & Betting History
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