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Appalachian State Mountaineers At South Alabama Jaguars: Preview, TV, Radio, Betting, Bowl Implications

South Alabama's (5-6, 3-4) bowl chances come down to one game. In their way is an Appalachian State (9-2, 6-1) team that remembers what happened last season.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama

Time: 6:30 pm CT/7:30 pm ET

TV/Streaming: Watch ESPN/ESPN3.com/Sun Belt Network

Streaming: USA Football Radio Network and Appalachian IMG Sports Network

Series: South Alabama won the only meeting, 47-20, last season.

Weather: Temps hovering around 50 with 75% humidity, but no chance of rain.

Betting Line: App State by 18, O/U 58.5

For The Mountaineers

Despite the unofficial reports that App State is heading to the Camelia Bowl leaking out this week, there's still something to play for. Obviously a Texas State upset of Arkansas State would give the Mountaineers motivation to play for a share of the Sun Belt championship, but there's also history at stake. Only three App State teams have ever won 10 games in the regular season, 1995, 2006 and 2008.

And then there's the memory of last year's humbling by the Jaguars. Ever since that 47-20 home beatdown in October 2014, the Apps have won 12 of their last 13 Sun Belt games.

Quarterback Taylor Lamb doesn't have the most gaudy stats (190.9 yards per game passing), but his 167.4 efficiency rating in sixth in FBS and 14.9 yards per reception is third.

Marcus Cox passed the 1,000 yard mark last weekend for the third straight season, but it's backup Jalin Moore who is becoming a great threat with his 348 combined rushing yards the last two games.

Out wide, the Apps were dealt a blow when Shaedon Meadors went down for the season with an ankle injury last weekend. However, Meadors is just one of an FBS-leading 21 receivers who have caught a pass this season for the Mountaineers. Another top receiver, Bobo Beathard, is a question mark with an ankle injury.

Defensively, the team is coming off a six-sack performance against Louisiana with linebacker Eric Boggs getting three himself. It was a return to early-season form for a unit that had taken some lumps in November.

For The Jaguars

With three games to go, South Alabama stood 5-4 and had three chances to get bowl eligible. The first game saw Georgia State shut down the Jags, then last week Georgia Southern ran them over. Now there's only one more chance to finish 6-6 for the third straight season.

The struggles such as the fourth-quarter disaster versus Arkansas State and the road loss to Texas State are juxtaposed against a road win at Mountain West title-game host San Diego State and overcoming a 24-0 deficit with 45 second-half points to defeat Idaho. It's hard to tell which South Alabama team will show up each week.

Cody Clements leads the offense on the field with 2,177 yards on the season, but only has completed 52.3% of his passes with 12 interceptions to 13 touchdowns. Clements left the Georgia Southern game with a shoulder injury and likely won't be 100% just seven days later.

The key might be in the leading rusher Xavier Johnson. The Jags are 4-0 in the games he's rushed for over 100 yards.

Another big play maker that'll have to get going is leading receivers Gerald Everett and Josh Magee. Everett might be needed more in protection since he's a tight end, so Magee and Marvin Shinn might have to step up after being quiet the last two weeks.

The two top tacklers on the team, linebacker Blake Dees and cornerback Jeremy Reaves, lead the team with 102 and 85 tackles, respectively. Dees' 20 tackles against Idaho is the highest-such total in the Sun Belt this season.

Why teams like Illinois and Rice are rooting for the Apps.

This game does have a bit of national relevance as South Alabama is one of three teams that could still attain bowl eligibility this weekend along with Georgia State and Kansas State, who both play earlier in the day. When kickoff in Mobile occurs, the Jaguars will be the last team that could become bowl eligible. High APR teams like San Jose State, Minnesota, Illinois and Rice will be rooting for the Mountaineers in this. BTW, USA's APR is on the low end of potential 5-7 teams, so their season would virtually be over with a loss.

Prediction

Last season, South Alabama used experience and physicality to dominate App State's inexperience. This season, the roles are flipped.

South Alabama has to get the run game going to have a chance. The Jags will need to force and/or capitalize off turnovers and probably most importantly, will have to hold steady if something goes wrong. If Clements isn't 100% and is hurting the team, he should be pulled, even though he's a senior.

Appalachian State needs to minimize the first bowl game excitement and concentrate on finishing the season. They need to avoid the same trip Louisiana fell in two seasons ago, when the Jaguars upset the Cajuns in Mobile 30-8 two years ago to finish 6-6.

Interesting stat in that App State leads all FBS in red zone defense at 58.3% while South Alabama is dead-last at 97.5%.

If good South Alabama shows up, it'll be close. If bad South Alabama shows up, it'll be over in the third quarter. I'll say we'll see Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde both show up.

Appalachian State 33 South Alabama 17