The Appalachian State Mountaineers (7-2, 4-1) will try to bounce back from a tough conference loss as they take on the Idaho Vandals (3-6, 2-4) in Sun Belt Conference action Saturday afternoon. Appalachian State won the only matchup between the two teams with a 45-28 win at home on November 29, 2014. The game was a push with the line as Appalachian State was a 17 point favorite in the contest.
Appalachian State had their six game win streak snapped with a 40-27 home loss to Arkansas State last week. Idaho has lost two straight and four of six after falling 52-45 on the road to South Alabama last week. Kickoff from the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho is scheduled for 5:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Appalachian State is currently favored by 18.5 points with the over/under set at 67 points in this contest.
Appalachian State ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard in their Sun Belt showdown against Arkansas State last week. The Mountaineers led 21-17 at the half but was outscored 23-6 after intermission; after taking a 21-14 lead in the second quarter, Appalachian State allowed Arkansas State to reel off the next 26 points. Appalachian State lost the total yardage battle 517-463 and the first down battle 24-19; the Mountaineers were hurt in the turnover battle as they committed three giveaways while failing to record a takeaway.
The Mountaineers are 72nd in the nation in passing offense (219.7 yards) and 10th in rushing offense as they roll up 254.9 yards per game on the ground. Appalachian State is scoring 37.4 points per game, which is tied for 17th in the nation in scoring offense, and they are extremely good when it comes to keeping opponents off the scoreboard; they are tied for 17th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 18.3 points per contest. Taylor Lamb has completed 120 of 199 passes for 1,838 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 290 yards and four scores. JP Caruso is the backup if Lamb goes down; he’s hit six of 10 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown while running for 115 yards. Marcus Cox is the main man in the ground game for the Mountaineers; he has 183 carries for 991 yards and six scores. Terrence Upshaw (67 carries, 392 yards, 2 TD), Jalin Moore (32 carries, 203 yards, 2 TD) and Josh Boyd (37 carries, 150 yards) have done decent work in their limited efforts. Simms McElfresh leads the team with 24 receptions for 308 yards and five scores; Shaedon Meadors (17 catches, team high 381 yards, 3 TD), Bobo Beathard (11 catches, 240 yards, 3 TD) and Malachi Jones (16 grabs, 345 yards, 2 TD) are other Appalachian State players with double digit receptions while Cox has grabbed 15 balls out of the backfield. Zach Matics has booted all 43 extra points and 10 of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards.
Idaho had their chances for the second straight week but failed to close out their opportunities to drop another shootout. The Vandals led 24-7 at the half and 31-28 after three quarters but were outscored 24-14 in the fourth quarter. Idaho outgained South Alabama 494-400, finished with 27 first downs while allowing 19 and held the ball for 36:26 to the Jaguars’ 23:34 in the contest. The Vandals did turn the ball over three times while forcing a pair of turnovers; Idaho allowed a fumble return for a score and a kickoff return for a touchdown in the game.
The Vandals put up 273.8 yards per game (32nd in the nation in passing offense) through the air and 155.4 yards per game (87th in the nation in rushing) on the ground. Idaho averages 30.2 points per game but they are miserable when it comes to stopping the opposition as they allow 41.2 points per contest, leaving them sitting 121st in the nation in scoring defense. Matt Linehan has completed 190 of 298 passes for 2,225 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 picks while adding 196 rushing yards plus three touchdowns on the year. Jake Luton is 37 of 62 for 239 yards and three picks while adding 39 yards and four scores on the ground. Elijhaa Penny leads the Vandals in rushing yards as he has 204 carries for 964 yards and seven scores while Aaron Duckworth chips in 55 carries for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Dezmon Epps leads the team with 61 receptions for 762 yards and two touchdowns while Callen Hightower has 38 receptions for 390 yards plus a score and Penny has 17 grabs out of the backfield. Buck Cowan (28 grabs, 406 yards, 3 TD) and Deon Watson (29 receptions, 358 yards, 5 TD) are in the mix for targets as well. Callen Hightower (29 receptions, 305 yards, TD) and Penny (22 receptions out of the backfield) are good secondary options. Austin Rehkow has hit 28 of 29 extra points and 18 of 21 field goal attempts this season with a long of 43 yards.
Appalachian State is 6-1 ATS in their last seven on the road, 4-1 ATS in their last five after an ATS loss, 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight conference games and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 after allowing at least 450 yards in their last game. Idaho is 4-12 ATS in their last 16 after an ATS win, 5-15-1 ATS in their last 21 against teams with a winning record and 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight home games against teams with a winning road record.
The Mountaineers suffered a tough loss last week that puts them behind Arkansas State in the Sun Belt race. Idaho has blown big leads in the second half of their last two defeats and will have a tough time in this contest; look for Appalachian State to crush Idaho and pick up the win in this contest.