Appalachian State and UAB will descend on the Big Easy on Dec. 21 to take part in the New Orleans Bowl. A precursor to the College Football Playoff Championship Game, which will also be played in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will pit the Sun Belt champions versus the Conference USA runner-up.
The Mountaineers knocked off Louisiana in the Sun Belt championship game to improve to 12-1 on the year. They were ranked No. 20 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and will face a UAB squad who is fresh off of a 49-6 loss against Flordia Atlantic in the Conference USA championship game.
New Orleans Bowl: Time & How to watch
The New Orleans Bowl kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 21. It will be broadcasted live on ESPN and ESPN's streaming platforms.
New Orleans Bowl: Prediction, Preview
The New Orleans Bowl is familiar territory for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers found success in the Big Easy last season, as they knocked off Middle Tennessee 45-13.
They also find themselves in the midst of a coaching change, something that has rung true the past three seasons. Their newest head coach, Shawn Clark, is App State's third head coach in three years. Scott Satterfield left for Louisville after last season and their head coach for this season, Eliah Drinkwitz, accepted a position as Missouri's, leaving the position open for Clark who was the offensive line coach in his four previous years with the school.
TV SCHEDULE: Complete times and TV channels for every bowl game
The coaching carousel hasn't slowed down the Mountaineers, as they are on a historic tear these past few years. Coming off of their fourth straight Sun Belt Conference championship, App State will be looking to win their fifth straight bowl game.
Powered by their 39.38 points per game, the ninth highest in the FBS, the Mountaineers continue to be in the conversation as a potential group of five team season after season. This is their best season since joining the FBS in 2014. App State's last one-loss season was in 2006 when they were apart of FCS's Southern Conference and went 14-1.
They'll look to continue their rise in the ranks of the FBS against UAB — a team that allows 20.8 points per game and 352.6 yards per game. The Blazers will have to pump up their offensive numbers as App State only allows around 20 points per game compared to UAB's average score of 23.6.
Comparing stats is one way to look at two squads who only have had one mutual opponent all year — South Alabama, a team that was beaten by both App State and UAB handily — but let's look at some of the quality wins each team has had this year.
SCOREBOARD: Live scores, stats for every bowl game
The Mountaineers were able to knock off North Carolina, a team that nearly knocked off the playoff-bound Clemson Tigers, 34-31 on Sept. 21. App State backed up that win against an ACC opponent with a win over an SEC team, South Carolina. They knocked off the Gamecocks 20-15 on Nov. 9. Although South Carolina finished the season ineligible for a bowl game, finishing 4-8, they did garner a moment of glory after beating division rival and No. 5 Georgia.
UAB is riding a surge of their own. In 2017, UAB officially reinstated its football program and came out of the gates running. The Blazers will participate in their third bowl game in three years, after a 13-year drought. UAB has also made the Conference USA game for the second consecutive year.
Last year, they won the conference beating Middle Tennessee 27-25. This year they lost to FAU 49-6. This year, the Blazers' 9-4 record was propelled by a big win over Louisiana Tech which solidified their spot in the C-USA championship game.
Despite UAB's recent run towards success, Appalachian State's offense and dominance this season will be tough to beat. The Mountaineers' 19-point difference between their points per game average and UAB's points allowed average, paired with UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III's tendency to turn the ball over will be the major storyline in this game. Expect App State to roll and continue to bolster their pitch to make a New Year's Six bowl next year.
|The Pick||App State 48,
Appalachian State vs. UAB: Stats, how they compare
|12-1 (7-1 Sun Belt)||Record (Conference)||9-4 (6-2 C-USA)|
|No. 20||CFP ranking||NR|
|39.38||Points per game||23.6|
|435.5||Yards per game||352.9|
|335.9||Yards allowed per game||294.1|
|199.69||Passing yards allowed||186.8|
|136.2||Rushing yards allowed||107.2|
2,576 yards (26 TDs, 6 INTs)
|Passing yards leader||Tyler Johnston III
1,952 yards (15 TDs, 14 INTs)
1,323 yards, 17 TDs
|Rushing yards leader||Spencer Brown
527 yards, 5 TDs
723 yards, 4 TDs
|Receiving yards leader||Austin Watkins
933 yards, 5 TDs
98 total tackles, 8 tfl, 2.5 sacks
|Defensive leader||Kristopher Moll
96 total tackles, 16 tfl, 9 sacks