Its been no secret over the past few years that Appalachian State is not afraid to play the “big boys” when it comes to making their schedule for each season and 2018 is no different. The N’eers will open up in Happy Valley (or Appy Valley as some have dubbed it) on September 1st against Penn State. The future schedule of games looks very promising for App Nation as fans will start to see more G5 teams visit Boone and also see more in-state and regional rivalries start to bloom.
Aug. 31 vs. East Tennessee State - A renewal of an old Southern Conference rivalry from days gone by as ETSU dropped football after the 2003 season. ETSU revived the football program back in 2015. The two schools are only separated by 55 miles and even though ETSU is an FCS program the game just makes sense from a geographic and logical perspective no matter how big of a favorite Appalachian may be.
Sept. 7 vs. Charlotte - Chapter two in this new in-state battle will be written just one year after chapter one, only this time it will be in Boone. App Vs. Charlotte just feels like a G5 game that should be played no matter the direction either team is headed. It’s quite obvious the fan bases are into it as Charlotte is adding 2,000 temporary seats for the 2018 matchup.
Sept. 21 at North Carolina - My personal favorite non-conference matchup of 2019 will take place inside Keenan Stadium in Chapel Hill as Appalachian and UNC will do battle for just the second time in history on the gridiron. The only other matchup came in 1940 which North Carolina won 56-6. If these two met up in 2017 I believe you could have seen an App State victory but recruiting and twist and turns can always shape a future meeting of this magnitude. Its also worth noting North Carolina will travel up to Boone in 2022.
Nov. 9 at South Carolina - Appalachian will channel their FCS years by stepping out of Sun Belt play late in the year to battle an SEC foe in South Carolina. The Gamecocks and Mountaineers last played in 1988 with SC winning that matchup 35-9. All time SC leads the series 8-1, with the only Appalachian victory coming in 1975 by a 39-34 margin. As South Carolina looks to be trending back up this looks like it could be a fun game to watch in Columbia next fall.
Sept. 5 vs. Morgan State - Appalachian will open the 2020 campaign against an FCS team that (as of 2018) has not had a winning season since 2014. It’s hard to truly find anything appealing in terms of this game except maybe 40+ points on the board by halftime.
Sept. 12 at Wake Forest - Now a game that has a buffet full of appeal to it is the rematch of a gut-wrenching 2017 loss for the Mountaineers with the Deacons of Wake Forrest. A game that Appalachian should have won in 2017, the team will have another shot this time in Winston-Salem. “The Battle of 421” as I like to call it has a chance to write another exciting chapter between two of the more closely-matched G5 and P5 schools in the southeast.
Sept. 19 at Wisconsin - A first-time meeting with the boys from Camp Randall will be a highlight on the 2020 non-conference slate. Wisconsin is on a run of good years and they seemed poised to continue over the course of the next couple at least. This could mean a very tough outing for the boys from Boone down the line.
Sept. 26 vs. UMass - And finally for 2020 we come to the 2006 FCS National Championship foes. The two had a exciting 2017 double-OT battle that resulted in a UMass upset. This time the game will take place in Boone as this will be the rubber match between the two as the all-time series is split 1-1.
Sept. 4 vs. East Carolina (Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, N.C.) - In what will be the most unique game in 2021 for the two in-state schools, these G5 foes suit up inside Bank Of America Stadium, home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Appalachian will represent as the home team in this affair and it will be interesting to see if ECU is trending back up by this point after a few down years.
Sept. 11 at Miami (Fla.) - The Mountaineers make the return trip to Coral Gables after the Canes’ trip to the high country in 2016. Miami is sure to have a better team as they have been able to pull in top talent from high schools across the country, not to mention they have one of the best head coaches in the game.
Sept. 18 vs. Elon - The SoCon years once again ring loud in this old FCS showdown between the Phoenix and the Mountaineers. Elon, much like ASU, has since moved on from the SoCon as they now reside in the CAA. Elon was the homecoming opponent for the Appalachian faithful for many years and I think it’s good to have them back on the schedule.
Sept. 25 vs. Marshall - Another old FCS showdown will commence when the Mountaineers take on the Thundering Herd inside Kidd Brewer. The two schools have not met since 2002 with Marshall winning 50-17. Appalachian leads the all time series 14-8 with their last win coming in 1995. Marshall is a G5 opponent I would like to see more frequently on the ASU slate.
Games I would like to see
Western Carolina - “The Battle For The Old Mountain Jug”, yes for years in the SoCon Appalachian State battled Western Carolina for a moonshine jug! Nothing says mountain football like a moonshine jug trophy!
Duke - Maybe not the most wow factor choice but in-state games will bring in money for both programs and Duke is a much better football program than they were a decade ago.
NC State - Two schools that have played each other in the past but this would continue with the trend of in-state games that will resonate with each fan base by providing easy travel accomodations.