A few days ago I randomly saw this tweet pop up in my timeline:
@SunBelt App St is having a good year, but I guarantee that they have no shot at the Go5 bowl spot— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) October 23, 2015
And I think that's probably true - they just don't play a tough enough schedule for the selection committee to be wowed by - but it shouldn't be. What Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield has been doing in Boone is remarkable.
After the Mountaineers destroyed what was thought to be the top dog in the Sun Belt in Georgia Southern last Thursday, they look to be as quality of a team as any in the Group of Five. Since losing four of the first five games of the 2014 season, Satterfield has won 12 of the last 13 games, with the lone loss coming to undefeated (and likely, at this point, best in the country) Clemson in week two of this season.
With a current ranking of 20th in S&P+, the highest ranking of any Group of Five team, the numbers prove that the Mountaineers are for real. In F/+, they're 28th - right behind Houston and ahead of Western Kentucky, Navy, Toledo, and Temple.
The offense is explosive: Sophomore QB Taylor Lamb averages 9.7 yards per attempt, and the dynamic rushing trio of junior RB Marcus Cox, sophomore RB Terrence Upshaw, and Lamb averages six yards per rush.
The defense is efficient: they're only giving up about 3.1 points per trip inside the 40, and it has stars at each level. Senior DL Ronald Blair is second in the conference with four sacks and 9.5 TFL, do-it-all junior LB John Law leads the team with 40 tackles, along with three sacks and two INTs, and sophomore DB Latrell Gibbs leads the conference in both interceptions (5) and passes defended (11).
It's hard to find a true weakness that this App State team has - even senior kicker Zach Matics has been solid, hitting all 35 extra point tries and 7-of-8 FGs.
The Mountaineers are likely to run the table and win the Sun Belt - their toughest matchup left looks to be at home against Arkansas State next Thursday night, a game that S&P+ gives them an 87% chance of winning. The Sun Belt is probably the worst conference in the FBS, but that doesn't mean that App State absolutely blowing through it isn't impressive.
Since the middle of last season, Appalachian State has been as extraordinary as any G5 team, and their run isn't likely to end anytime soon - the two-deep is loaded with juniors and sophomores, and Satterfield has proven he can coach up his young talent. It's time for the rest of the country to start taking App State seriously as a Group of Five power.