RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL
APPALACHIAN STATE MOUNTAINEERS (10-2) vs. OHIO BOBCATS (8-4)
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT
Las Vegas Line: Appalachian State -7.5
Appalachian State’s 10-win regular season seemingly went under-appreciated nationally, due in large part to the Mountaineers getting blown out of the de facto Sun Belt championship against Arkansas State on a national telecast.
However, that and an early-season setback against undefeated Clemson were Appalachian State’s only blemishes on an otherwise impressive docket. An 11-win finish to the program’s second-ever FBS season sets a lofty standard going forward.
A bowl-game win over Ohio was once a slam dunk. The Bobcats were winless in the postseason before 2011, but snapped the streak in the first of back-to-back bowl wins. The first came against Utah State. The second, in 2012, was over Sun Belt opponent Louisiana-Monroe.
Ohio’s riding a much more relevant winning streak into the second annual Camellia Bowl. The Bobcats won three straight to close out the regular season, including one over MAC West division champion Northern Illinois.
After giving up 41-plus in three straight losses the weeks prior, Ohio’s defense tightened up in the final three contests. The Bobcats offense also improved its ball control by leaps and bounds, going from a -6 turnover margin in the losing skid, to plus-2 during the winning streak.
Appalachian State’s defense, which forced 21 turnovers in the regular season, poses Ohio a potential mismatch. Defensive end and Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Ronald Blair keys the Mountaineer attack with his pass rushing, which yielded 18 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
The tendency of the Ohio offense to disappear doesn’t bode well for this pairing. Look for Appalachian State to shut down the Bobcats on the defensive end, setting up the inevitable big play from running back Marcus Cox.