Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Battle of Sun Belt Unbeatens Thursday Night at Kidd Brewer Stadium

The stage is set for one of the biggest games in Sun Belt Conference history when Appalachian State (7-1, 4-0 Sun Belt) hosts Arkansas State (5-3, 4-0 Sun Belt) in a nationally televised showdown on Thursday night at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Thursday’s game marks only the second time in Sun Belt history that two teams with undefeated records in conference play are meeting this late in the calendar year. The only other time that two teams with unblemished Sun Belt records met this late in a season came on Nov. 16, 2002 when North Texas (5-5, 4-0 Sun Belt) played New Mexico State (6-4, 4-0 Sun Belt). The Mean Green defeated the Aggies, 38-27.

The Mountaineers and Red Wolves are the last two remaining teams that are undefeated in Sun Belt play this season.

Appalachian State has won 10-straight Sun Belt games, good for the fourth-longest conference winning streak in Sun Belt history. Appalachian’s 10-game Sun Belt winning streak includes an impressive 37-32 triumph at Arkansas State on Nov. 15 of last season. The Mountaineers dominated the action for much of the afternoon, jumping out to a 37- 20 lead before withstanding a late A-State run to hold on for the victory.

The Mountaineers have also won six straight games overall and 13 of their last 14 contests, dating back to the midpoint of last season. Appalachian State’s’ 7-1 start this season is the best record ever for a Sun Belt Conference team through eight games. App State moved to 7-1 with last Saturday’s 44-41 triple-overtime victory over Troy.

Despite surrendering 41 points and a season-high 450 yards in the win over Troy, Appalachian State is the only NCAA Division I FBS team that ranks among the nation’s top 15 in both scoring defense (8th - 15.6 ppg) and total offense (15th - 38.8 ppg).

The Mountaineers are one of only four FBS teams that rank among the top 25 nationally in both total defense (12th - 298.6 ypg) and total offense (23rd - 475.8 ypg). Appalachian State continues to lead the Sun Belt Conference in scoring and total defense and scoring and total offense.

Arkansas State also survived an upset-minded opponent last Saturday when it came back from a 34-27 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Georgia State, 48-34.

This week’s game is Appalachian State’s second Thursday home game in three weeks against an undefeated Sun Belt foe. The Mountaineers ended Georgia Southern’s 11-game conference winning streak when it belted the Eagles, 31-13, on ESPNU on Thursday, Oct. 22.