App State was ranked for the first time since the move to FBS last season in what was seen as a breakthrough moment for the App State football program. The ranking only lasted a week as the Apps would get blasted in Statesboro, going down to their third string QB in the process.
App State would battle through the rest of the season and win the inaugural Sun Belt Championship Game and blast Middle Tennessee in the NOLA Bow, finishing the year just outside the Top 25. Now with a new coaching staff, but with a large portion of last year’s team returning, the question is how long could it take before we see App State ranked in 2019?
Week 1 will see Appalachian take on a former SoCon rival in East Tennessee State from nearby Johnson City. ETSU is coming off the best season since their revival last season but I can’t see the debut of Eli Drinkwitz getting off to a 0-1 start.
A Week 1 victory by any margin wont be enough to push App State into the top 25 and I don’t think a Week 2 win at home against Charlotte will either. Now this year’s UNCC game will take on a more heartfelt feel as Charlotte will play to honor the kids that lost their life in the tragic shooting that took place, and they should be well received wherever they play in 2019. App State torched Charlotte in the Queen City last year. I like the Drinkwitz era to get off to a 2-0 start.
The third game of the season is where things start to get interesting. So much hype has went into the return of Mack Brown to Chapel Hill. But can Mack do a drastic change in year 1? Only time will tell. The App State faithful will feel as strong on this game as any game played in 2019 because it’s a game many fans have wanted to see on the schedule for decades.
The fact that Mack Brown coached at App State as head coach in 1983 will also add some fuel to the flame. If UNC grabs some early wins over South Carolina or Miami this makes this a possible breakthrough game for Appalachian State and their motivation should be sky high. A win over a 2-1 or 3-0 UNC team may be enough to throw the Mountaineers into the 25th spot in that following week’s rankings, but a Week 5 game against Coastal Carolina may be what it takes to break the ceiling.
Now remember this is all based on “IF” scenarios but, September, early October could see App State back in the Top 25 for just the second time in school history.