Why Appalachian State Will Win The R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
– The Middle Tennessee running game is stoppable. It’s had a few decent moments against a few lousy run defense, but overall, the ground game has been along for the run, averaging under four yards per carry and hitting the 200-yard mark just twice – the only two times the team averaged over five yards per pop.
How do you beat ASU? Run. Penn State and Georgia Southern were the only two the three teams to come up with 200 yards, and the Mountaineers lost. Middle Tennessee won’t run for 200 yards, meaning it has to throw to win, but …
– Applachian State is second in the nation in pass efficiency defense. The secondary gave up just seven touchdown passes on the year – spreading them out over the 12 games – and picked off 15 passes with two or more in five games. No one threw for more than 230 yards, and five teams hit half of their passes or fewer.
– Third down defense might just be the difference. Appalachian State is a killer at stopping third down plays, and Middle Tennessee isn’t. The Mountaineers led the Sun Belt, allowing teams to convert just 31% of their third down chances, and the Blue Raiders struggled to keep the chains moving over the last five games. Don’t control the clock against ASU, and there’s a huge problem.