Appalachian State returns to action after a month off due to COVID issues on Thursday night. Photo from Wiki Commons.
- Appalachian State returns to action at home after a month against Arkansas State on Thursday (7:30 PM EST, ESPN)
- Arkansas State’s top passing offense squares off against App State’s prolific ground attack
- Read Below for odds, analysis and a pick on Thursday’s important Sun Belt game
Appalachian State returns to football after about a month since their last game, and does so against one of the top passing offenses in the country in Arkansas State on Thursday night.
The Red Wolves have done well to get their games in this season, and have five under their belt already. After opening the season with a 37-24 loss to Memphis, Arkansas State rebounded with a 35-31 upset of Kansas State.
Arkansas State is 4-1 against the spread this season and has combined with opponents to exceed predicted point totals in its last four games.
App State’s last result was a good one – a 52-21 blowout of FCS Campbell – but that game was played on September 26th. Shawn Clark is 3-0 following a bye as App State’s head coach, but the Mountaineers’ long layoff is due to a COVID outbreak of nearly 20 players and personnel.
App State is no longer reporting any active cases in its program, but how a team responds from an outbreak is unpredictable.
Arkansas State vs Appalachian State Week 8 Odds
|Arkansas State||+13.5 (-110)||+370||O 66.5 (-110)|
|Appalachian State||-13.5 (-110)||-520||U 66.5 (-110)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on Oct. 20
Where Each Team Will Look for Success
Two of the teams that the Mountaineers have played this season, Charlotte and Marshall, have Top 25 passing offenses in terms of efficiency. Statistically, App State has been the seventh-most efficient defense in the country against the pass, but after the Mountaineers held the 49ers to just 140 passing yards in their first game, they allowed Marshall to rack up 268 yards the following week.
#ArkansasState WR Jonathan Adams Jr. put on an absolute show tonight.
15 rec, 177 yards, 2 TDs, on 23 targets. Has day 2 ceiling IMO, just an absolute dog.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 16, 2020
Arkansas State has the third-most productive pass attack in the nation, which averages nearly 385 yards per game and has delivered 23 touchdowns this season. Senior wide receiver Jonathan Adams has been extremely impressive, and already has 539 yards and seven touchdowns to his name.
Fellow senior receiver Dahu Green has 419 yards and five scores of his own in a two-quarterback offense helmed by redshirt junior Logan Bonner and redshirt sophomore Layne Hatcher.
App State has been solid enough on defense, but the front seven hasn’t packed enough punch this season to look like it will consistently trouble A-State’s offensive line. Bonner and Hatcher have both shown good awareness in the pocket and should be able to find areas in the Mountaineers’ secondary to exploit.
The Red Wolves don’t have quite as potent of a rushing attack, but could get things going against App State, who has just been average at stopping the rush on standard running downs this season.
Zac Thomas absolutely dropped it in a bucket for Jalen Virgil. What a throw and catch pic.twitter.com/iRNr4SKQPH
— Barstool Sun Belt (@barstoolsunbelt) September 19, 2020
The Mountaineers are going to try and run the ball down A-State’s throat on offense, but the Red Wolves’ defense has been far more susceptible to the pass this season.
Arkansas State doesn’t boast a fearsome pass rush, but App State QB Zac Thomas has shown the propensity to hold on to the ball a bit too long while waiting on his receivers rather than throwing them open this season.
Arkansas State fired its co-defensive coordinators after a 59-52 win against Georgia State last week. The Red Wolves surrendered 269 yards on the ground, but 89 came from quarterback Cornelius Brown. Thomas hasn’t run the ball as effectively this season as he has in the past few years, and even though App State should have success on the ground, it will likely come from more traditional methods rather than broken containment of the quarterback.
This season, Arkansas State is 2-1 ATS on the road, while App State is 0-2 at home. Most of the tickets and cash have favored the Mountaineers, but that has just widened the spread for A-State, and its explosive passing attack.
Even if App State scores on the majority of its offensive possessions, it’s going to do so on longer drives on the ground. The Red Wolves should have enough firepower on offense to keep this one within two scores and cover as road underdogs.
The Pick: Arkansas State +13.5 (-110)
Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.