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Myrtle Beach Bowl Preview: Appalachian State Seeks Sixth Straight Bowl Win

Since making the step up to the FBS, Appalachian State has been one of the better programs outside of the Power 5. The Mountaineers have won 62 games in the last six seasons and have won five straight bowl games. Now on a third head coach in three seasons, the Mountaineers (8-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) are continuing their winning tradition and will try to lock up a sixth straight bowl win and 9+ win season when they take on North Texas (4-5, 3-4 Conference USA) in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. The Monday matchup between the Mountaineers and Mean Green will kick off at 2:30 pm ET on ESPN. Appalachian State is favored by 19.5 points, and the total is 63.5.

The Mountaineers have been overshadowed this season in the Sun Belt by Coastal Carolina and Louisiana, but it’s still been a solid first season under first-year coach Shawn Clark. The Mean Green has had an up and down season, but they have a chance to finish at .500 and win a bowl game for the first time since 2013. Here’s a look at both teams and some of the factors and bets that should be considered for this matchup.

Appalachian State Mountaineers Preview

Appalachian State’s run of Sun Belt dominance came to an end this season, as they failed to win at least a share of a division or conference title for the first time since 2016. But their lone losses this season have come to Coastal Carolina, Louisiana, and Marshall, who have a combined record of 27-3.

While the program is on a third head coach in three seasons, one constant in their success has been quarterback Zach Thomas. The senior has thrown for over 2,000 yards in each of the last three seasons. This season, he has completed a career-high 64.7% of his passes for 2,038 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has also run for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

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The Mountaineers averaged 31.8 points and 435.3 yards on offense, with their rushing attack leading the way at 243.6 yards per game. They lost starting running back Daetrich Harrington midway through the season, but Camerun Peeples (807 yards, 7 TD, 5.5 yards per carry) has stepped up in his absence, and Nate Noel (484 yards, 3 TD, 6.1 ypc) and Marcus Williams, Jr. (402 yards, 2 TD, 6.5 ypc) have both been productive as well. That quartet, along with Thomas, all have 100-yard rushing games this season.

Defensively, Appalachian State has one of the nation’s stingiest units. They rank 19th in the FBS in points allowed per game (19.3), 12th in total yards allowed per game (313.5), and seventh in passing yards allowed per game (169.8). Most notably, they lead the FBS in opponent pass completion percentage, with opposing aerial attacks completing only 46.6 passes and are tied for third in interceptions with 14.

North Texas Mean Green Preview

Normally North Texas would not be bowling with a losing record, but with the NCAA changing eligibility requirements this season, the Mean Green are returning to the postseason after a three-season bowl streak was snapped last season.

North Texas boasts one of the nation’s more potent offenses, averaging 35.1 points (23rd in the FBS) and 515 yards per game (seventh in the FBS). The Mean Green are 13th in the FBS in rushing yards per game, led by Deandre Torrey (656 yards, 6 TD, 5.8 ypc). At quarterback, Austin Aune and Jason Bean have split time. Aune threw for 302 yards and five touchdowns in the regular-season finale against UTEP, a 45-43 win. Bean is the bigger threat with his legs, having run for 336 yards and five touchdowns. By far, the leading target is senior receiver Jaelon Darden, who leads the FBS in receiving touchdowns with 19 and has caught 74 passes for 1,190 yards. The team’s second-leading receiver is Deonte Simpson, who has 25 catches for 517 yards and four scores.

While they have a potent offense, the Mean Green is 4-5 because of a defense that is one of the nation’s worst, allowing 41.3 points (124th out of 127 FBS teams) and 509.4 yards per game. They are most porous against the run, allowing as many rushing yards per game as Appalachian State’s rushing offense averages (243.6).

Betting Information: North Texas vs Appalachian State

Odds via Bovada

Spread: Appalachian State -19.5 (-110), North Texas +19.5 (-110)

Moneyline: Appalachian State -1200, North Texas +700

Total: Over 63.5 (-110), Under 63.5 (-110)

See Bovada for updated lines and odds.

Key Trends

  • North Texas has allowed 31 or more points in all but one game, which was their 27-17 win over Rice on November 21. The Mean Green have allowed 40+ points six times, including in each of their last three games.
  • Appalachian State has scored 31 or more points seven times this season and 40 or more three times.
  • Appalachian State has allowed 30+ points only once this season, in a 34-23 loss at undefeated Coastal Carolina on November 21.
  • Appalachian State has allowed 20 or fewer points eight times this season.
  • North Texas has scored 30+ six times this season.
  • North Texas has been outscored 200-123 in the first half of games this season.
  • Appalachian State has outscored opponents 185-112 in the first half this season.

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