[5:30 PM] Appalachian State v. Toledo

Who will WIN this matchup?

Appalachian State Mountaineers (9-3)

Toledo Rockets (9-3)


The line for this game is Appalachian State by 1 point.

Appalachian State will return to familiar grounds and aim for similar results when it plays Toledo on Dec. 17 in Montgomery, Ala. The Mountaineers, co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference, faced Ohio last season in the second year of the Camellia Bowl and came away with a 31-29 victory inside the 21,000-seat Cramton Bowl. Toledo, which was the runner-up in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, will be making its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years, most recently beating Temple 32-17 in last season’s Marmot Boca Raton Bowl – the first game as coach for Jason Candle.

Both teams feature 1,300-yard rushers, but Appalachian State has a second running back that’s topped 1,400 each of the last two seasons in senior Marcus Cox. He’d likely be nearing that mark again if not for a four-game absence caused by a left quadriceps injury that occurred at the end of a negated 79-yard touchdown run on Sept. 17 against Miami. His injury opened the door for Jalin Moore to receive more playing time, however, and the sophomore responded by rushing for at least 100 yards in eight of the last nine games, giving the Rockets two explosive ball carriers on which to focus.

Toledo wasn’t able to topple unbeaten Western Michigan in the MAC championship game on Nov. 25, but few offenses have kept up with the Rockets this season. Behind the nation-leading 43 touchdown passes by junior quarterback Logan Woodside, they enter the bowl season ranked eighth in the nation in passing offense at 329.1 yards per game and fourth in total offense at 529.8. Appalachian State, by comparison, was 10th in the Sun Belt Conference in pass offense during the regular season (184) and second in total offense (429.6).

Not only will Cramton Bowl be a familiar site for coach Scott Satterfield, but the Rockets likely will bring back memories as well. Satterfield was the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Toledo in 2009 – serving on the same staff as Candle, who was in his first year as a 29-year-old slot receivers/tight ends coach. Satterfield also still is young at 43 but has experience and proven success, likely putting both on short lists to replace coaches at higher-profile programs such as Cincinnati and Indiana.

The Rockets have a solid running game they can implement if Appalachian State floods the secondary, and Kareem Hunt has some incentive to end his collegiate career on a high note. He enters the game with 1,355 rushing yards on the season and 4,825 for his career, 25 away from passing Chester Taylor as the school’s career leader. Hunt has produced 27 performances with at least 100 rushing yards during his stay at Toledo and has become a dependable receiver as well, catching at least three passes in eight games this season – another reason why he was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl.


StreakSmarts Pick: Toledo Rockets

Confidence: 5/10

StreakSmarter Pick