Appalachian State Mountaineers Odds to win the Sun Belt with Expert Betting Predictions
The Appalachian State Mountaineers won three straight FCS national titles starting in 2005, but that's not what everyone knows them best for. After winning their second title, they opened their 2007 season as very heavy underdogs in Ann Arbor against fifth-ranked Michigan. As a very big Michigan fan, the game worried me so little that I went golfing instead of watching. Hours later I heard the score, was sure it was a joke, threw up a little, and didn't snap out of my hate-coma until Jim Harbaugh's introductory press conference. It was a win that defined a program and somewhat paved their way to the FBS seven years later. That first 2014 season playing with the big boys did not go well, but now App State is a Sun Belt power and is favored to win their second straight conference title.
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2016 in a Nutshell
The Mountaineers had their chance for their biggest FBS win since 2007 to open last season and fell just short, losing in overtime to then ninth-ranked Tennessee in their opener. After an easy win over Old Dominion, they had a second chance for a big win, but it went badly - they were crushed by five touchdowns by Miami. They finished nonconference play at 2-2 after beating Akron and then won their first five conference games by at least two touchdowns. They were an underdog for the first time since the Miami game, and they lost by four points. They bounced back to win their last two handily to move to 7-1 and share the Sun Belt title with Arkansas State - the conference doesn't have a title game, though it will starting in the 2018 season. That earned them a spot in the Camellia Bowl, where they beat a solid Toledo team by three as one-point favorites.
So in the end they wound up at 10-3, with their three losses coming in the only three games that they were underdogs. They have room to improve, but that is a very solid season and their second straight 10-win season.
Key Additions and Departures
The App State offense is very run-focused - they carried the ball on two-thirds of snaps. Star running back Marcus Cox is gone this year, but that matters less than you would think. The team survived a four-game Cox injury last year, and they have plenty of depth at the position - as you would expect from a team that relies on it so heavily. Those backs will be running behind a line that includes four returning starters, including two who were all-conference. Brock Macaulay started 20 games for Kent State on the line and has transferred over and will be eligible as well. The line should be solid again. Quarterback Taylor Lamb is back for a fourth year as the team's starter. He's far from the nation's most exciting player, but he doesn't need to be. He returns his favorite receiving target and two other seniors as well, so there is plenty to work with in the times they do pass - though the slot position is less experienced but fairly talented.
While they were an offensively sound team - and Top 10 nationally on the ground - it was the defense that drove this bus last year. The defense rotated a lot of players through - by choice, not necessity - and they have a lot coming back. They lose three linebackers and a corner of note, but they have players to plug and play in those spots. If you want a reason for concern with this squad it is simply that they don't have enviable depth, so if the injury bug hits hard they could be forced to put a lot more pressure on the offense than would be ideal.
Appalachian State Mountaineers Schedule Analysis
They open up with another shot at a major statement as they play at a Georgia squad that is favored to win the SEC East. Beyond that, though, the schedule is very favorable. The rest of the nonconference schedule is a joke unless you like Wake Forest a whole lot more than I do. The two best teams besides App State in the Sun Belt are, according to oddsmakers, Arkansas State and Troy. The Mountaineers avoid both of them this year. They do, however, play Coastal Carolina, which is in the first year of their transition to FBS and the Sun Belt.
Last year the team only lost games as underdogs. If things go to plan then the Georgia game will be the only one that they aren't favored in , and they will frequently be heavy favorites. That could be a good omen for the season.
2017-18 Appalachian State Mountaineers Betting Odds and Trends
Oddsmakers believe firmly in this team in their conference. BetOnline has them at +105 to win the Sun Belt. Arkansas State and Troy are both tied for second but way back at +350.
The team wasn't great to bet on last year. They weren't lousy, either. They wound up at 7-6 ATS, which means that they were just a break-even squad. They were 1-2 ATS as an underdog, which didn't help. They also failed to cover their first three in November before snapping out of it to cover their final two spreads. The solid defense helped them be somewhat better against the total - the "under" was 8-5 on the year.
2017-18 Appalachian State Mountaineers Predictions and College Football Picks
If this team is any good at all then they should be able to all but cruise to a Sun Belt title - or at least a share of it. The conference schedule is as soft as it could be - the two best conference opponents they play have to come to Boone, N.C. - and they have three very winnable nonconference games. Eleven regular-season wins is very achievable, and anything less than 10 would be a disaster of a sort.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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