The Rockets and Mountaineers played in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl last season where Appalachian State prevailed 31-28 on a 39-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The players and staffs alike are familiar with the surroundings and Saturday should be another competitive affair at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Both teams are led by dynamic quarterbacks.
Toledo gunslinger Logan Woodside was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year after completing 64.9% of his attempts for 3,758 yards with 28 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb threw for 2,606 yards and 27 touchdowns against just six interceptions in 2017.
Lamb has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in his collegiate career and will be playing in his 50th game overall on Saturday. In fact, Lamb leads all active FBS quarterbacks with 49 games played!
Appalachian State has enjoyed tremendous success since joining FBS in 2013, reaching the postseason in each of the three years it was eligible. The Mountaineers are a perfect 2-0 SU in bowl games with wins over Ohio (2015) and Toledo (2016) and I expect that success to continue against a talented Toledo squad that may be disappointed in playing in the same bowl after winning the MAC title for the first time since 2004.
The Rockets fall into a negative 25-64 ATS system that invests against certain favorites of 3.5 to 10 points that are coming off a win by 17+ points, provided they are matched up against an opponent off a game in which it scored 42 or more points.
The Mountaineers will have success on the ground behind an attack that rates 0.7 yards per rush attempt better than average (5.4 yards per rush play against teams that would combine to allow just 4.7 yards per rush play).
Appalachian State posted a 57 percent run rate during the regular season and I expect the Mountaineers to exploit a subpar Toledo front seven that is allowing 4.7 yards per rush attempt to a group of running backs that would combine to average just 4.2 yards per rush play against a mediocre defense.
The Rockets also yielded 174 rushing yards per game at 5.1 yards per carry on the road this season. Toledo also runs the ball 57 percent of the time but the Mountaineers were 44th against the run compared to the Rockets being ranked 68th against the run.
Entering this postseason, the Sun Belt Conference had posted a 16-13 SU and 19-9-1 ATS record as bowl underdogs. Georgia State improved that mark to 17-13 SU and 20-9-1 ATS with its upset win over Western Kentucky on Saturday.
Let’s also note that Sun Belt squads are 11-4-1 ATS in their last sixteen bowl games against teams hailing from the MAC. In its last 29 bowl games, teams from the Sun Belt boast an impressive 17-12 SU record, with many of those wins coming as underdogs.
Toledo is 1-4 ATS in its last five non-conference affairs and 1-4-1 ATS in its last six December contests, whereas the Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games versus .501 or greater opposition and 4-1 ATS in their last five following a straight-up win.
Finally, my math model favors Toledo by just 4.3 points so we are getting decent line value with the Mountaineers. Grab the points and look for Appalachian State to improve to a perfect 3-0 in bowl games since joining the FBS. Take Appalachian State as one of Oskeim Sports’ free College Football Picks for Saturday, December 23.
Oskeim Sports’ Free College Football Picks:
- Appalachian State (+7.5)
- Army (+6.5)