Start Time: 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, September 5th
Location: Kidd-Brewer Stadium: Boone, North Carolina
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio: List of App State affiliates
Live Stats: Link
Betting Line: None
The bane of head coach Scott Satterfield's existence in his first two years as App State head coach has been the first eight weeks of the season. In his inaugural 2013 campaign while in the last FCS campaign, App State started off 1-6 in the first eight weeks with one bye mixed in, the only win at Elon, who finished 2-10 and last place in the Southern Conference. For an App State team who hadn't lost six game in an entire season in 20 years, it was a shock to the system. The team did rebound to win three of their last five, beating Georgia Southern 38-14 and including a loss to the SEC's Georgia mixed in, but the 4-8 record wasn't easy to stomach.
In 2014, it was almost deja-vu in the first FBS season. The Mountaineers started the season 1-5 with two bye weeks mixed in. The only win was a 66-0 thumping of FCS non-scholarship Campbell and the losses included a bad 55-48 OT defeat to FCS Liberty. In this case, the Apps went on a tear, winning their last six games, all against Sun Belt opponents, en route to a 7-5 finish.
Going into 2015 with conference championship and bowl dreams, the team has to learn not to look ahead. One week at a time, which could be especially difficult with a second week showdown with Clemson looming.
In terms of yards per game from 2014, this will be a battle between the MEAC's top offensive unit and the Sun Belt's best defensive squad. Howard does return 18 of their 22 starters from a season ago, but will be breaking in a quarterback in Jamie Cunningham who is only 1-1 for 4 yards passing in his career. App State's 20 out of 22 returning starters have been well-documented, so there will be much experience all over the field.
For Howard to have a chance, they need to protect the football and Cunningham needs to open up the passing game. If there's a question mark on the Mountaineers' defense, it's in the secondary.
For App State, they need to pound the ball like they did at the end of last season. If the big plays break early, the backups will be playing in the second half.
The area to watch is special teams. Howard is known to have an explosive return game and App State struggled in all aspects of special teams in recent years. The addition of Stu Holt to the App coaching staff is likely to help, but it might take time.
Prediction: 41-14 App State. One non-offensive touchdown for Howard, but otherwise a good day for Appalachian State.