Appalachian State (12-1) faces off against UAB (9-4) in the R+L Carriers Bowl. App State comes in winning the Sun Belt conference over UL Lafayette, and UAB fell to Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA Championship Game. Appalachian State has had another incredible year, but UAB don’t look passed UAB’s defense who will want to shut down the Mountaineers. As of writing this, 76 percent of ticket holders are taking Appalachian State as 16.5-point favorites, and 70 percent believe the game will go over 48 points.
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
Appalachian State Analysis
If an offense is going to move the football, then Appalachian State is going to have a greater chance at success. The Mountaineers are averaging 39.2 points per game (9th), and 6.1 yards per play (29th). Overall, their offense ranks 49th in success rate and 17th in explosiveness. This is still going to be a difficult matchup going up against a UAB defense that ranks fourth in success rate. The Mountaineers offensive line should be able to hold their own against UAB. There isn’t much of an edge there, or in the rushing attack for App State. However, Appalachian State ranks 17th in explosive rushing plays. UAB has struggled all season to defend big plays on the ground as they rank 128th. In the Conference USA championship game, this was something FAU was able to take advantage of against the UAB defense. If the Mountaineers have the same success with big plays on the ground, then they’ll take care of UAB.
Not only does App State have a great offense, they also have one of the best defenses in the country too. They rank eighth in success rate, and holding teams to 21.3 points per game (24th). They should be able to handle the Blazers offense just fine as it is one of the worst offenses in the country. The Mountaineers will have the edge with their front seven, and will limit both UAB’s rushing and passing attack. Appalachian State’s biggest weakness is allowing explosive plays. This has been a problem all season for them. However, UAB has almost no sort of explosiveness in their offense. They rank 100th in that category, so don’t expect UAB to all of the sudden create big plays against the Mountaineers defense.
The Blazers have struggled horribly on offense this season. They are scoring an average of 23.6 points per game (92nd), and 5.5 yards per play (66th). Their overall success rate ranks 102nd in the country, and they rank 100th in explosiveness. Anyway someone looks at it, the offense is not pretty. Appalachian State has the edge over the UAB offense across the board. The thing the Blazers could take advantage is the Mountaineers poor explosive defense that ranks 110th in the country. However, UAB ranks 100th in explosive offense, so there isn’t much of a chance they’ll be able to create big plays down field. This will be the best defense UAB sees all season. There has been three games where they scored less than 10 points, and this could be another one.
Defensively, things are much different for UAB compared to their offense. The Blazers ranks fourth in defensive success rate, and have one of the best defensive lines in college football. They’re holding teams to 21 points per game, and rank seventh in havoc created. Overall, the Blazers have an edge over the Mountaineers offense. However, UAB has struggled to defend explosive plays this season. They rank 107th in defending explosive plays, and Appalachian State can take advantage of it. The Mountaineers rank 17th in explosive offense and 17th in rushing explosiveness. UAB ranks 128th in defending explosive runs, so this will be a huge mismatch for the Blazers. FAU was able to exploit this in the Conference USA Championship, and App State can do it in New Orleans.
Betting Pick: Under 48
Both defenses rank in the top 10 in success rate, and top 25 in scoring defense. This makes it hard to see over 48 points get scored even inside where weather won’t be an issue. Appalachian State could very well take advantage of UAB’s inability to defend explosive plays. However, I don’t know how UAB will move the ball on offense themselves. This game could become a blow, which may give both teams less effort to try late in the game to preserve the under. The defenses are too good to allow 24+ points each. Appalachian State should be more fired up for this one after winning the Sun Belt, and UAB is coming off an embarrassing loss to FAU.