We continue our 2017 season preview for Appalachian State by looking at the next three games on the schedule. After an impressive first three games, the Apps get set to welcome another ACC team to Boone and battle two Sun Belt teams in their swan song seasons in the conference.
Week 1: Georgia 42 App 21
Week 2: App 63 Savannah St 3
Week 3: App 38 TxSt 13
Record: 2-1, 1-0 in Sun Belt
Week 4: Vs Wake Forest (2016 Record: 7-6)
Appalachian State will once again be in the same spot they were in a year ago when they welcome another ACC school to “The Rock.” This year it’ll be an instate foe, the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. This game means a ton on a personal level than the Miami game last year because a good portion of alumni from both App and Wake have kids that have or are currently attending one of the two schools as they are only separated by 86 miles. The history is their as the N’eers and the Deacs have played 22 times between 1975 and 2001.
This should be a great game between the two nearby rivals as both teams matchup well. Wake Forest will be led by a strong Defense as this is the Deacs best card. Quarterback John Wolford will be the man to watch on the Wake offense as the Deacons more less go as he goes. Wake was not impressive last season against G5 and FCS programs as they barely beat Tulane 7-3, loss to Army 21-13 and only beat FCS Delaware 38-21. They did beat Temple who won the AAC in their bowl game but it was during the Owls were going through a coaching transition.
After last years loss to Miami I expect Appalachian to be ready for Wake as they will get another chance to show their stuff against a P5 school. The crowd will be livid and the mountains will shake when these two do battle in Boone. I see the game coming down to who has the ball last or who commits the fewest turnovers. After a tough loss to Tennessee and a home blowout to Miami a year ago, I’m predicting Appalachian will get over the hump and get a win against a P5 school.
Prediction: App- 21 WF- 17 (Record: 3-1, 1-0 in SB)
Week 5: Vs New Mexico State (2016 Record: 3-7)
Sun Belt play will pick back up for App State in Week Five when they welcome Larry Rose and the New Mexico State Aggies to town. App took care of business last year against the Aggies 37-7 but NMSU could possibly be a little better this year. Coming off an emotional hard fought win over Wake Forest this could be a prime letdown spot for the Apps. Larry Rose is a dynamic running back and behind an improving quarterback in Tyler Rogers the Aggies will be ready to play. The key in this game is the NMSU defense as they allowed over 38 points a game last season. Appalachian will need to attack and attack early.
This is also the last time these two will play each other for the foreseeable future as New Mexico State will become an FBS Independent in 2018. This is a game I could see New Mexico State jumping out to an early 7-0 or 10-0 lead as the Apps are still ridding high from a week ago. Taylor Lamb and company will wake up, Jalin Moore will come alive, and Appalachian will flex their muscles and come out with their second Sun Belt win of the year.
Prediction: App- 35 NMSU- 13 ( Record: 4-1, 2-0 in SB)
Week 6: @ Idaho (2016 Record: 9-4)
Led by quarterback Matt Lineahan the Idaho Vandals were the cinderella team of the Sun Belt in 2016. Idaho now enters their last season not only in the Sun Belt but as a member of the FBS as the team will drop to the FCS ranks for 2018 and join the Big Sky conference with FCS powers Montana and Eastern Washington. Appalachian State is one of the teams that Idaho has yet to beat since the Apps joined to Sun Belt in 2014.
The Mountaineers are the better overall team here but I don’t think it’s as one-sided as one may think. Paul Petrino has the Vandals ready to be a force in the FCS in 2018 as Idaho will probably cut its 20-25 worst players to get to FCS numbers. Lineahan is a great leader for this team and the Kibbie Dome is becoming a tougher place to play for visiting squads. I expect a back and forth first half between the two as Idaho will see the chance they have to pull the upset. Appalachian will dig deep when it matters though thanks to a 4th quarter defensive stand and prevail in a tight win.
Prediction: App- 31 Idaho- 28 ( Record: 5-1, 3-0 in SB)
*Next week the Apps hit the mid season stretch and battle roosters, revolutionaries and hawks as the FunBelt heats up.