Location: Kidd-Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina
Time: 2:00 pm ET/1:00 pm CT
Streaming: WatchESPN & ESPN3.com
Radio: Appalachian IMG Sports Network & Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network
Line: Appalachian State by 23, O/U 60
History: Appalachian State won the only meeting, 35-16 last season in Lafayette.
Weather: Cloudy, light winds, mid 50's dropping through the game to high 40's
The fortunes of both teams have changed dramatically from a season ago. In 2014's meeting, the Cajuns went in as a 10-point favorite and despite App State's upset of Arkansas State the previous week, many figured the Mountaineers were in over their head down in Cajuns country.
As it turned out, it was Louisiana who unprepared for what was about to happen at App State dominated the second half en route to a shock 35-16 victory. This victory killed Louisiana's chances of a Sun Belt title and inadvertently handed the title to Georgia Southern.
Now, it's App State who is looking to keep up in the Sun Belt title race and Louisiana who is the heavy underdog. But unlike the 2014 Mountaineers who were surging late in the season, the 2015 Cajuns are stumbling bad and one loss from no bowling in 2015.
For The Mountaineers
App State is coming off a bye week, which seems to be needed after a tough stretch of games including two Thursday nights and a trip to Idaho. The goal is to keep pace in case Arkansas State stumbles in either of their final two games.
After not playing two weeks ago at Idaho, leading rusher Marcus Cox will return with 9 yards to go before hitting 1,000 for the third straight season. Teams now have to worry about his backup Jalin Moore (447) yards who ran for 244 yards at Idaho. And then there's Terrence Upshaw, who's at 436.
Taylor Lamb comes into the game with a 59.8% completion clip and 72 yards short of 2,000 on the season, not to mention 331 rushing yards. The receiving corp is spread out with Shaedon Meadors leading the team with 421 yards on 20 catches. Malachi Jones (18 for 336), Simms McElfresh (24 for 308) and Bobo Beathard (13 for 255) round out the top receivers for the Apps.
The Mountaineers' defense is still 8th in FBS in total defense and rank high in most defensive categories, including 1st in red zone defense.
For The Ragin' Cajuns
After going back and forth on quarterbacks, Louisiana has settled on Brooks Haack. Despite being second string, Jalen Nixon will see the field as the running quarterback option and is second in that category with 403 yards on the year.
Leading the Cajuns' offense is Elijah McGuire who has 929 rushing yards on the season. After McGuire and Nixon is Torrey Pierce with 368 yards. The top two receivers are Jamal Robison (45 for 741) and Al Riles (43 for 446). All those players are still very dangerous for any defense.
Louisiana isn't awful on defense, they're just average. The Cajuns do have 22 sacks on the season and are second in the Sun Belt in red zone defense, but it's a distant second behind App State (58.8% to 72.2%).
The Cajuns are coming off a bad 37-34 home loss to New Mexico State where Louisiana blew a late lead due to a shanked punt.
Hud Quote Of The Week
Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth isn't a fan of the travel.
"We’ve got to fly, then we’ve got to get an hour-and-a-half bus ride to the hotel. Then the day of the game, we’ve got a 30-minute bus ride to the stadium," Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. "It is not obviously like you fly and land here and you’re two minutes from the hotel. It is a challenge to get there, and the weather’s going to be a challenge, too.
He should ask Blake Anderson how to deal with it.
Hud further says that Georgia State played in two inches of snow last season and they tried to pass every play, both of which are factually incorrect. The snow didn't accumulate til late in the game and the rush/pass ratio for G-State was 26/19.
But then again, this is the same coach who blamed an early-season loss to Akron on the new facilities.
Maybe Hud is feeling the heat from having a losing record with a million-dollar salary plus the potential NCAA sanctions that are coming.
Unless Haack goes off, it's hard to see the Cajuns winning this game. The weather will be mild for late-November in Boone so it's not the blizzard App fans will like. Still, McGuire was stopped last year by the same defense and the Cajuns are on a downslide.
Appalachian State 45 Louisiana 21