There is one college football game on the schedule Thursday night. It comes from the Sun Belt in Boone, NC at Appalachian State. Not many people knew who the Appalachian State Mountaineers were before they beat the Michigan Wolverines, but by this point, everyone is well aware that they are not a school to take lightly.
On a good day, Appalachian State is more than capable of beating another big boy. Appalachian State was a really good FCS team when they beat Michigan in 2007. It’s one of the most documented college football upset in history, but make no mistake about it, Appalachian State was a good team then and still is a good football program in 2020.
The Mountaineers beat Joe Flacco and Delaware for the FCS Championship in 2007, in a game that wasn’t even close. That win over Michigan and dominance in the FCS pathed the way for their entry into the FBS. Appalachian State isn’t going to be winning a national championship in the FBS, though they’re a major contender in the Sun Belt and could be a New Year’s Six buster one day.
Appalachian State goes into Thursday night with a record of 2-1. They haven’t played since throttling Campbell, 52-21, on September 26. Their other win was a textbook 35-20 victory over Charlotte to open the season on September 12. They followed that win up with a 17-7 loss against the surging Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall is a team to look out for in Conference USA. Their defense is vastly underrated and caught Appalachian State by surprise.
The Arkansas State defense isn’t going to catch Appalachian State or anyone else by surprise, but it’s not advised to take their offense lightly. The combination of Layne Hatcher and Logan Bonner at quarterback can sneak up a defense quickly. Arkansas State goes with a sort of quarterback-by-committee system with Hatcher and Bonner taking around equal snaps. They both have decent arms and okay legs.
What that does is force opposing defenses into preparing for two quarterbacks. Against a quality defense like Appalachian State, perhaps that can help on Thursday night. They are likely going to have to score plenty here to keep up with the Mountaineers. If that doesn’t occur, expect Mountaineer State to beat up on a bad Red Wolves’ defense and pull away with ease. Head below for our free Arkansas State v. Appalachian State pick for October 22, 2020.
Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers NCAAF Betting Odds:
Arkansas State vs. Appalachian State Prediction:
This is a classic game of offense versus defense. Back maybe ten years ago the better defense would easily win out, but in 2020, you can’t just blindly back the better defense. Having said that, the Arkansas State defense could have trouble stopping a high school team.
Georgia State has a fine offense, but they’re not nearly as good as they looked last week. The Panthers made it look easy, as they scored 52 points in an arena football style game. Arkansas State were able to survive with a 59-52 win, but that’s not going to work against a team with a durable defense.
Coastal Carolina doesn’t have the best of defenses, but they were able to keep Hatcher and Bonner contained, for the most part, and allowed their offense to go to work on a pitiful Red Wolves’ defense. Coastal Carolina racked up 52 points in a 52-23 win on October 3.
The Red Wolves have conceded 481.8 yards per game, along with 40 points allowed per game defensively. Appalachian State is going to keep things simple on Thursday night. They will run the ball and then pound the ball some more.
Their defense has yielded 175.4 yards per game on the ground. Even worse, the Red Wolves have given up over 300 passing yards per game. While throwing the ball isn’t their specialty, Arkansas State might need to put some more guys in the box to try to slow down Daetrich Harrington and Nate Noel.
Harrington rushed for 211 yards and 4 touchdowns against Campbell, while freshman Noel impressed in his first game with 131 yards and a touchdown. Noel gained 9.4 yards per carry, while Harrington went for 6.6 yards per carry.
The Mountaineers are fourth in the FBS with 269.3 rushing yards per game. They have the potential to dominate ball possession in this game. If Hatcher and Bonner are on the sideline too long and can’t get into a rhythm, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.
Appalachian State has the talent to neutralize Hatcher and Bonner to prevent them from getting in a groove. The secondary has been strong with just 163.7 passing yards allowed per game. With only 19.3 points yielded a game, the Arkansas State offense will likely be contained by a well-rested Mountaineers’ defense.
At first look, the points on Arkansas might look attractive, but the sportsbooks seem to be looking for Red Wolves money. Expect for Appalachian State to slowly drain the life out of Arkansas State on Thursday night. The offense bailed the Red Wolves out last week, but probably not happening against the Appalachian State defense. A 42-24 win for the Mountaineers looks about right.