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Keys to the Game: Can Appalachian State Ground the Eagles?

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The Mountaineers have won five games over the last two seasons, which is more than twice the number Southern Miss has won. How can ASU make that six wins?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The last, and only, time these two played was in 1937, and it was a 7-0 no-pointsfest in favor of the Golden Eagles. Could this weekend's game be a repeat of that scoreline? All things are possible, but it's unlikely. Despite Southern Miss' recent (and surprising) ineptitude, this could be a much closer game than the Mountaineers would like - and the Eagles could come out on top! Here's what Appalachian State need to do to level the all-time record.

"Without further ado - it's time to start .... running!"

This is a no-brainer, as this has been the Mountaineers' strength over their first couple of games this year, as well as last season. Marcus Cox looks to be back to full health, while Terrence Upshaw and Ricky Fergerson have shown some wheels. The three have combined for 359 yards and 6 TDs, and should expect to receive a lot of carries on Saturday. Southern Miss, on the other hand, have been shocking against the run. Getting run over by Mississippi State and Alabama is almost acceptable, but Alcorn State put 295 on the Eagles despite no passing attack. Oh, and by the way, SoMiss couldn't stop the run last season either.

Don't underestimate your opponent

The battle cry of a thousand coaches through the ages, the Mountaineers are hardly in a place where they can look down their nose at any opponents. Well, maybe Campbell. But Southern Miss may have had a rough start to the season, but after knocking heads with the Bulldogs and Tide, Appalachian State will be far less of a challenge. They should have some success moving the ball on the ground, but Kameron Bryant will have to throw the ball to keep the defense from cheating up. And when I say passing, I mean more than 2 yard downfield.

Let the defense win the day

There was a time, not so long ago, that "stopping" the Southern Miss offense was holding them to 28 points or less. Those days are memories, but the Eagles still have some playmakers. Quarterback Nick Mullen lacks consistency, but he can blow up at times, like his 5 TD performance against UAB last season. Receiver Markese Triplett made some nice plays last season, but hasn't had the chance to strut his stuff yet with the tough OOC opposition. The Eagles have been relying on a couple of decent freshman running backs in Ito Smith and Tez Parks. Smith leads the team with 176 yards on 51 carries, while Parks has 82 yards on 10 attempts. Smith in particular could be a key factor in the game.