Game: Appalachian State Mountaineers (4-1 overall, 1-0 Sun Belt ) at ULM Warhawks (1-4 overall, 0-1 Sun Belt)
Start Time: 7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT, Saturday, October 17th
Location: JPS Field at Malone Stadium, Monroe, Louisiana
TV/Streaming: Watch ESPN/ESPN3.com
Radio: KJLO 104.1 (Monroe) & KJLO.com/Appalachian IMG Sports Network
Betting Line: App State -13.5 (opened at -8.5). O/U: 50
Weather: Mostly clear, Mid 60's at kickoff dipping to high 40's, which is cool for Louisiana
History: App State won the only meeting, 31-29 in Boone last year.
Why you shouldn't overlook this game
Appalachian State sits at 4-1 on the year. ULM sits at 1-4 on the year. However, it's not what it seems on the surface.
The Mountaineer's schedule has included wins over 0-5 Howard, 2-3 Old Dominion that have wins over Norfolk State and Eastern Michigan, 0-6 Wyoming and 1-4 Georgia State. However their only loss is to CFB Playoff contender Clemson.
The Warhawks' losses are to the SEC's Georgia and Alabama, 4-1 Georgia Southern and 3-2 Tulsa, who have losses to ranked Oklahoma and Houston. However their only win is versus 0-5 Nicholls State.
App State's successes are well known. Winners of 11 of their last 12, haven't lost a conference game in over a calendar year and bringing to Monroe one of the top defenses in all college football. In fact in their four games not against Clemson, the App defense has outscored the opposing offenses 21-16.
ULM have seemingly struggled, but have always relished the underdog role. They came back from down 31-3 to Georgia Southern to get within a touchdown before the Eagles finished the game off.
App State will look to rely on Marcus Cox and the returning Terrence Upshaw to carry the rock and the Apps' Top 10 rushing offense. Last week, Georgia State tried stacking the box to prevent the run and it opened up the passing game for Taylor Lamb, who went 21 of 27 for 314 yards and three scores against the Panthers.
ULM will look to pass first as they average 228 yards a game through the air compared to just 95 on the ground. Still, the offensive numbers aren't very encouraging. The Warhawks did improve their offensive consistency versus Tulsa, going for 173 yards compared to 221 passing. Ajalen Holley and Rashon Caesar will be the big targets as they average 96 and 90.7 yards receiving per game, respectively.
If there is a vulnerability in the App State defense, one would think it to be the secondary, however pass-happy Georgia State was unable to score a touchdown last week. Still, it's an option ULM will have to look at.
The Sun Belt has always respected ULM's 3-3-5 defense as one of the better units in the league. The Warhawks have the ability to swarm a ball-carrier and limit big gains. Still, the unit has been gashed this year for an average of 412 yards per game with 243 of those coming on the ground.
Otherwise, App State averages over 10 more yards per punts, almost 24 less penalty yards per game and has the edge in just about any statistical category. It would be expected for App State to win, but the game is in Monroe and home field can't be discounted, even if the Mountaineers are bringing the cold with them.
How Will The Game Go?
App State has made a nice living putting teams away early this season, outscoring opponents 45-3 this season. ULM has been the opposite, being out-scored 41-10 in the opening period. So if it's still a close score after the first quarter, the game could be a nail-biter.
These two teams played down to the wire last season in Boone, so it wouldn't be a total surprise. ULM needs the win to have a decent chance at a bowl game. Even with the potential distraction of the biggest home game in a long time next Thursday, it's hard to pick against App State.
Appalachian State 23