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Above, Texas State defensive lineman Jordan Revels brings down former Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas during a game inside Bobcat Stadium on Nov. 7, 2020. Texas State will host the Mountaineers again this season on Oct. 8, 2021. Daily Record photo by Lance Winter

TXST Countdown to Kickoff: Bobcats to meet with Mountaineers

Saturday, July 23, 2022

There is not a team in the Sun Belt that has been more dominant than Appalachian State.

Since making the leap to FBS and joining the Sun Belt in 2014, the Mountaineers have been outright or co-conference champions four times. While the team from Boone, N.C., wasn’t eligible for a bowl bid in 2014 while making its transition, it’s received one every year since, winning its first six bowl games before losing to Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl in 2021.

You could say App State has had a couple of down years, but only because it didn’t bring home a title — the team still went 9-3 in 2020, finishing in second place in the Sun Belt’s East Division, then went 10-4 in 2021, losing to Louisiana in the league’s championship game.

Texas State got a reprieve from playing the Mountaineers last season but have lost all six of their previous meetings. The Bobcats will see them again this year as App State looks poised to contend for another Sun Belt crown in its third season under head coach Shawn Clark.

According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, the Mountaineers will have a few holes to fill, returning 60% of their production from a year ago. That’s especially true on defense, as Connelly points out that of the 17 players who got 300-plus snaps last year, eight are gone.

But the unit has always boasted one of the stronger defenses in the conference — ranking fourth last year giving up 348 yards per game — and will still have some of its best players to lean on. Redshirt senior Steven Jones Jr. may be the best cornerback in the league, as the All-Sun Belt First Team selection tied for most interceptions in the conference with five and broke up another eight passes. Senior inside linebacker Trey Cobb landed on the Second Team after posting 72 tackles, three interceptions and four pass deflections. Outside linebackers Nick Hampton and Brendan Harrington combined for 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.

The offense should be more experienced overall and stick with its run-heavy approach. App State retains its one-two punch in the backfield with running backs Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples, who combined to rush for 2,054 yards and 18 touchdowns on 365 carries. They’ll be running behind an offensive line that starts four seniors, anchored by all-conference right tackle Cooper Hodges.

Sixth-year senior Chase Brice is back for one more season as the team’s starting quarterback after completing 242-390 passes for 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and being named the 2021 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. But one of the biggest mysteries with App State is who Brice will be throwing to as redshirt sophomore Christian Wells and SMU transfer Tyler Page are the only receivers on the roster who caught more than five passes last year.

Connelly’s SP+ projections predict the Mountaineers to win 8.0 games on average and ranked the team No. 60 in FBS, ahead of Texas State at No. 123. The maroon and gold will host App State inside Bobcat Stadium on Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

Texas State vs. Appalachian State

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 8, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Bobcat Stadium
  • TV: ESPN+
  • Radio: 89.9 FM, KTSW

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