FACTS & STATS: Site: Kidd Brewer Stadium (24,050) — Boone, North Carolina.
Television: None. Home Record: Idaho 1-4, ASU 3-2. Away Record: Idaho 0-5, ASU
3-3. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 1-6, ASU
5-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot Appalachian State Mountaineers will try to end the
regular season on a high note on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the
Idaho Vandals to Kidd Brewer Stadium for a Sun Belt Conference clash.
The 2014 campaign has been one to forget for Idaho, as it is just 1-9 overall
and 1-6 in the Sun Belt, placing ahead of only Georgia State (0-7) in the
league standings. The Vandals are losers of three straight, most recently
falling at home to Troy on Nov. 15 (34-17), and they have been one of the most
consistently futile teams in the nation in recent years with just five wins
since the start of the 2011 season.
ASU came out flat in its first season as a member of the FBS with losses in
five of its first six games, but it has adjusted to the new level of
competition and then some in recent weeks by ripping off five straight wins to
become bowl eligible. The Mountaineers ruined Louisiana’s undefeated reign in
the league last Saturday with an outstanding 35-16 road win to improve to 5-2
in league play.
This marks the first-ever meeting between the newly formed conference rivals.
For all of its struggles, Idaho actually has an average offense by Sun Belt
standards, ranking sixth in scoring (24.7 ppg) and fifth in yardage (419.2
The focal point of the unit comes out wide, as Joshua McCain has emerged as
one of the nation’s best receivers. He’s tallied 73 receptions (tied for 14th
in the nation) for 1,123 yards (ninth) and nine touchdowns, and his 136-yard
performance against Troy was his seventh 100-yard game of the year.
Richard Montgomery (50 receptions, 528 yards, TD) takes advantage of plenty of
one-on-one opportunities with defenses keying in on McCain.
Matt Linehan has had no problem moving the offense down the field with 231.1
passing ypg, but with three more interceptions in the latest game he now has
17 on the season, second most in the FBS. He’s completing fewer than 59
percent of his passes and has accounted for 11 touchdowns.
The backfield workload is split evenly between Jerrel Brown (114 carries, 564
yards) and Elijhaa Penny (115 carries, 492 yards), with Penny called upon near
the goal line with 10 touchdowns.
Things have gone poorly for the Vandals on the defensive side of the ball this
season, as they allow 36.5 ppg and 465.3 ypg.
Marc Millan (96 tackles) and Quayshawne Buckley (68 tackles) have been very
active behind the line of scrimmage with 15.0 TFL apiece. Bradley Njoku (65
tackles) and Jayshawn Jordan (60 tackles) both have two interceptions.
Meanwhile, ASU’s explosive offense ranks second in the league in both scoring
(34.8 ppg) and yardage (464.4 ypg) and has been especially outstanding in the
last six games (41.3 ppg).
Marcus Cox is making a strong case for the league’s offensive player of the
year, as he’s turned 230 carries into 1,293 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he
was a catalyst in last week’s victory (36 carries, 151 yards, two TDs).
Taylor Lamb has been erratic under center with less than 62 percent
completions and eight interceptions, but overall he’s been effective with
2,158 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding stellar rushing numbers as well
(453 yards, four TDs).
Lamb’s favorite targets in the passing game are Simms McElfresh (40
receptions, 465 yards, five TDs), Malachi Jones (34 receptions, 530 yards,
three, TDs) and Montez McGuire (25 receptions, 386 yards, two TDs).
The Mountaineers’ defense (27.3 ppg, 345.9 ypg) has been much improved of
late. They held a high-powered Louisiana offense to just 259 yards last week.
John Law has made plays all over the field with 77 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0
sacks, a pick and a fumble recovery. Doug Middleton (69 tackles) and Joel Ross
(34 tackles) each have three interceptions, and Ronald Blair is a force on the
defensive line with 12.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks.
For ASU, which is playing better than just about anyone in the conference,
closing out the regular season at home against a last-place team seems to be a
a gift. The writing is on the wall in this one as the Mountaineers should
continue their winning streak and bolster their bowl resume.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Appalachian State 45, Idaho 24