UAB Blazers vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers - 12/21/19 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Appalachian State Mountaineers at UAB Blazers
Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 9:00 PM (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
Appalachian State -19.5; Total 47.5
In the most lopsided spread in college bowls this year, the No. 20 Appalachian State Mountaineers (12-1) will take on the UAB Blazers (9-4) in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The game features the four-time defending Sun Belt Conference champion and the Conference USA runner-up.
This game is almost a disappointment for an Appalachian State team that had higher hopes on the season. The Mountaineers were hoping to be the top Group of 5 team, but that honor was awarded to Memphis, so they will return to the New Orleans Bowl for a second straight year. This has been an amazing season for Appalachian State, becoming the first 12-win team in Sun Belt history, recording the highest national ranking in school and Sun Belt history, becoming the first Sun Belt team to beat two Power Five teams in the same season, and earning the best road record (6-0) in Sun Belt history and best among all FBS teams.
The Mountaineers had little trouble winning their fourth straight conference title, defeating Louisiana 45-38 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Two late touchdowns turned a commanding 45-24 Appalachian State lead into a one-score game, but the Mountaineers held on for the win. Darrynton Evans, who was named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, ran the ball 19 times for 73 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes -- both touchdowns -- to lead his team to the win. Akeem Davis-Gaither, the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, had 10 tackles to help shut down the Ragin’ Cajuns. Appalachian State was able to rush the ball 51 times for 267 yards with Daetrich Harrington rushing nine times for 89 yards and Marcus Williams Jr. adding 78yards and a touchdown on eight carries to go along with Evans’ big day on the ground.
Appalachian State ranks in the top 25 in the nation in both scoring offense (ninth, 39.4 points per game), and in scoring defense (22nd, 20.2 points per game). Evans has led the way carrying the ball 236 times for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 1,323 rushing yards rank as the 14th-best total in FBS and his 17 touchdowns are 10th-best in FBS. Zac Thomas has passed for 2,576 yards and 26 touchdowns with just six interceptions, while Thomas Hennigan has caught 58 passes for 723 yards and four touchdowns.
UAB enters the game going 3-3 over its last six games after opening the season at 6-1. Two of the three wins in that final 3-3 stretch were close with a 20-14 win over Louisiana Tech and a 26-21 victory over North Texas, but the three losses were blowout defeats. The Blazers lost 30-7 to Tennessee, 37-2 to Southern Miss, and 49-6 to Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA title game. This is the third consecutive year that the Blazers will go to a bowl game and they will look for their second straight bowl win after knocking off Northern Illinois 37-13 in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl last season.
UAB was never in the game against Florida Atlantic, falling behind 14-3 after one quarter and 35-6 at the half before the eventual 49-6 final score in Lane Kiffin’s final game at FAU. The Blazers couldn’t get anything done on offense, passing for just 84 yards on 8-of-19 passing while managing just 139 yards on the ground. Spencer Brown carried the ball 18 times for 65 yards, an average of just 3.6 yards per carry, while teammate Tyler Johnston III gained 59 yards on seven carries from the quarterback position.
Johnston passed for 1,952 yards this season with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while Austin Watkins can become a 1,000-yard receiver in the bowl game as he sits at 933 yards on 47 receptions and four touchdowns. Brown was the leading rusher for the Blazers, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry gaining 527 yards on 136 carries.
This season seems to feel like last year with Appalachian State winning the Sun Belt championship game against Lousiana, just like this year, before heading to the New Orleans Bowl, which resulted in a 45-13 win over Middle Tennessee. This year’s bowl game is most likely going to have a similar result -- if not worse. Appalachian State is simply the better team on all sides of the ball, and if FAU was able to win 49-6, imagine how ugly this game could get. Take Appalachian State minus the big number and then watch the blowout ensue.