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Appalachian State Mountaineers vs Old Dominion Monarchs: Preview, TV, Starting Time, Weather, Betting Line

This Sun Belt versus Conference USA battle of FBS newcomers will answer many question about one team, raise more questions for the other. The only thing going in without many questions is the rain and wind.

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: 3:30 pm ET

Location: Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, Virginia

TV: American Sports Network (affiliates)

Radio: ESPN Radio 94.1 FM (Norfolk), Sports FM 100.5 (Richmond), WLVA 94.1 FM, Fox Sports 580 (Lynchburg), ODUsports.com: List of App State affiliates and AppStateSports.com

Series Record: First Meeting

Live StatsLink

Line: App State by 8, O/U 56

WeatherGod Awful. Rainy rain all day, 20 mph sustained, 40 mph gusts

In a battle of second-year FBS programs, the race for bowl positioning, recruiting and getting conference ready has a Sun Belt team travel down the road to a Conference USA school in a game with lots on the line.

For App State: The Mountaineers are coming off a bye week. They faced two teams on opposite ends of D1, throttling Howard 49-0 before getting whupped at Clemson 41-10. There's still a lot of unknown regarding this App State team, but the expectations are still high.

Sophomore quarterback Taylor Lamb had a game to forget at Clemson, going 9-28 passing for 95 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. All three picks came within a short time-span and led to the Tigers opening the game up. Whether that's a one-time hiccup for Lamb or the start of a bad trend is yet to be seen.

The ground game is anchored by Marcux Cox (36 attempts for 223 yards) and Terrence Upshaw (21 attempts for 126 yards). Lamb (7 attempts for 57 yards) also has a deceptively-good ground game.

Out wide, top receiver Simms McElfresh (6 catches for 63 yards) is returning from an ankle sprain suffered versus Clemson. Big-play receiver Shaedon Meadors (5 catches for 79 yards) could be limited by the weather, but is still a potent target.

The 3-4 defense the Apps run is anchored by linebackers Eric Boggs (16 tackles), John Law (14 tackles), Keenan Gilcrhest (11 tackles) and more.

For Old Dominion: The Monarchs are 2-1 after their 38-14 defeat to NC State last weekend. ODU did start with two wins, going to Ypsilanti and beating Eastern Michigan 38-34, then taking care of Norfolk State 24-10.

The main cog in the Monarch's offense is running back Raw Lawry (70 attempts for 453 yards) who has 58% of his team's rushes and was a vital part in both wins with over 200 yards rushing in each. However the Wolfpack shut down Lawry to the tune of -3 yards rushing. Behind him is Jeremy Cox (12 attempts for 48 yards), who might see his work-load increase as the season goes on.

At quarterback is freshman Shuler Bentley, who has taken care of the ball so far this season, with only one interception. The question is if Bentley can step up and make the big throw, as his completion percentage is only 53.2%, although not entirely his fault.

The receivers have been serviceable with the exception of the NC State game due to many drops. Jonathan Duhart (6 catches for 117 yards) leads the way with the second-most receiving yards coming from Lawry's 70-yard swing pass touchdown versus NC State. After that, five other receivers have at least five catches, although the biggest yardage total among them is 60 yards. Out of that group, David Washington (5 catches for 60 yards) will be one of the bigger targets.

With ODU's 4-3 defense, it makes sense that the starting middle linebacker TJ Ricks (29 tackles) is the leading tackler. After that, the next three highest tacklers are all secondary players.

The Mother Nature Factor: The weather is looking to be the star on Saturday with rain and wind. It doesn't look like thunder and lightning will be an issue, but sustained winds above 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph will cause havoc. Under those conditions, it looks like whoever gets their ground game better established will have a massive edge.

Game Keys: The game tempo could be dictated by which set of linebackers can make the plays to get off the field. Based off numbers and the 10 returning starters to ODU's 5, that edge goes to App State.

The run game is key for both sides, but a steady dose of passes will also be needed. Both QB's have shown to get the ball where it needs to be and read defenses well, but Lamb does have the experience edge, despite the Clemson game.

The biggest key with the weather is limiting turnovers. That edge goes to the Monarchs as they have taken care of the ball this season.

Prediction: Home field and turnovers favors Old Dominion, but App State has too many weapons, has experience in adverse weather and want to make the Sun Belt a four-team race.

Appalachian State 21 Old Dominion 14