Appalachian State, the team that beat Michigan all those years ago, has had a storybook ride to this point under Scott Satterfield. In 2013, the Mountaineers were decimated by injuries and staggered to a 4-8 finish. In 2014, its first year in FBS and the Sunbelt, App State started the year 1-5 before flicking the switch and winning out to finish 7-5. The Mounties are now 27-5 in their L32 games with three of the losses coming to Clemson, Miami Fla, and Tennessee. App is loaded this year and a preseason SBC co-favorite and will give the Georgia Bulldogs all it can handle.
Georgia comes off an injury riddled year itself in its first year under Kirby Smart. Injuries were the bad news in 2016 but the silver lining comes in the fact that smart was able to take his lumps while getting his underclassmen experience. In fact, senior accounted for just 19% of Bulldog starts last year. Georgia brings back its top three back including the best 1-2 combo in the nation in Nick Chubb and Sony Michell who return with 5835 yards and 48 career TDs between them. A whopping 10 defensive starters also return.
This arguably the best “Group of Five” vs. “Power Five” matchup of 2017. Appalachian State is 27-5 in its L32 games, took SEC Tennessee to overtime last year and has won two bowls. Georgia looks to rebound from an injury riddled 2016 and is loaded in its own right and picked by many to be the favorite in the SEC East. The teams have met once with the Bulldogs winning 45-6 in 2013, App State’s only losing season since 1993. The 6:15 PM EST kick is strong enough to be shown on the ESPN mothership and Direct TV channel 206.
I personally love App State. They remind me of the Pat Hill Fresno State teams of 20 years ago … “anybody, anywhere”. The Mounties are not only competitive in their money games, it suits them well when they rampage through the Sunbelt regular season. Appalachian State also has stars like QB Taylor Lamb (2281, 61%, 15-8, 661 rushing) and RB Jalin Moore (1450, 5.9, 10 TDs). The defense returns seven players but remember that this defense held highly regarded Tennessee to just 13 points in regulation last year.
Georgia is going to be a beast this year and if they stay healthy, will be a legitimate threat to win the SEC. There are high hopes and expectations every year in Athens, and Mark Richt was let go after going 50-13 the prior five years. Smart gets a mulligan for last year but has no excuse not to run roughshod over the SEC East this year and possibly run the table heading into the SEC championship game. Along with the big running attack and 10 back on defense, the Bulldogs miss both Alabama and LSU out of the West. Georgia’s two toughest games are at Tennessee and at Auburn but it is never easy in the SEC.
This might be a great game to just watch. The number looks to be about right and the low total is a reflection of the respect that Las Vegas obvioulsy has for both defenses. Our first inclination would be to bet a pizza and a beer on Georgia and the under. If you absolutely have to have Appalachian State, you might want to think about teasing App State to +20.5 and the total up to 52.5 to grab a full unit. In any case while this might not be a great game to bet, it will certainly be a great game to watch.