Ranking Appalachian State’s Opponents

Appalachian State is headed into their second year playing a FBS schedule, and their first season of bowl eligibility. The Mountaineers are bringing back 20 starters from a team which won their last six games of the 2014 campaign. The school has more depth both on the offensive and defensive side than they have ever had before, but who are the teams they will have to measure up against? I have ranked all of their 2015 foes below:

1. Clemson– Deshaun Watson is returning at quarterback along with one of the best groups of wide receivers in the country. Many national pundits have Clemson as the favorite to win the ACC and make the College Football Playoff. The Tigers offense will be a tough second week test for the men from Boone, and none of this even mentions that statistically they had one of the best defenses in the country last year.

2. Georgia Southern- Appalachian’s biggest rival going back to their days in the Southern conference, Georgia Southern stomped the men in black in Statesboro last year. The Eagles hope to do the same when they bring their option attack up to the Rock for a Thursday night game this season. Stopping both Matt Breida and Kevin Ellison is a challenge for any team.

3. Arkansas State- Appalachian beat Arkansas State and Louisiana on back to back weeks on the road last November. Blake Anderson will take his team up to the High Country to try to get revenge this season. Offensively, they feature Fredi Knighten, a first-team all-Sun Belt quarterback who proved he can do more than just run the ball last year as he averaged 252 yards passing per game.

4. Louisiana Ragin Cajuns- The boys from Lafayette rely on the multi-purpose threat of Elijah Mcguire. He is the preseason Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year and not only had 1,264 yards rushing, but was also the team’s leading receiver. When you add in his 15 punt returns, he was the Belt’s leader in all-purpose yards. The Cajuns will be looking to establish a new quarterback after three years with Terrance Broadway.

5. Old Dominion- The Mountaineers will have to travel to the Tidewater region of Virginia to play these C-USA opponents. The Monarchs feature an Oregon-like wide open spread offense, and should be an interesting challenge (after a bye week) following the Clemson game. The Mountaineers won’t want to start out by losing two of their first three, so this game will be crucial for both team morale and conference reputation.

6. Louisiana Warhawks – ULM struggled on offense last season, so head coach Todd Berry will take over the play-calling this season. They do have talent at wide receiver with both Ajalen Holley and Rashon Caesar, who could be among the best in the conference. Defensively they gave up only 26.3 points per game, which was good for third best in the league.

7. South Alabama – This team will get a boost to their depth as they add several transfers from UAB. Those players will be needed as the Jaguars only return seven starters from last year’s squad who beat App State at the Rock. South Alabama likes to play an aggressive defensive style, and that may come back to hurt them with only two returning starters from last year’s team on that side of the ball.

8. Wyoming- For homecoming in Boone, this is a game which should instill confidence in the home team. Wyoming’s running back duo of Shaun Wick and Brian Hill should give the Appalachian defense a test. The team averaged 153 rushing yards per game last season, but rushing yards didn’t lead to points in 2014 as the Cowboys averaged only 21.1 points per game.

9. Idaho – Head coach Paul Petrino may be feeling the heat at the beginning of the year if you base it on his treatment of the media. The main man is 2-21 in his two years at the helm of the Vandals program. He brings quarterback Matt Linehan (whose father is the head of the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys) to the table, but reportedly the team is still having trouble with the deep ball.

10. Troy – First year head coach Neal Brown has said that depth is his main concern with his new team. Returning quarterback Brandon Silvers does have running backs Brandon Burks and Jordan Chunn to take pressure off the passing game. They combined for over 1,000 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns last season.

11. Georgia State- Trent Miles will be showcasing his one win team from a year ago at the Georgia Dome when the Mountaineers come to visit. It will also be an opportunity to say hello to former Appalachian athletic director Charlie Cobb who has the same title in Atlanta. Senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle threw for 274 yards per game last year and he has some talented receivers to utilize.

12. Howard- The most exciting thing about this one will be that it’s the season opener. The Mountaineers shouldn’t have many issues against the Bison, but it should be an opportunity to hit someone different and get some young guys additional experience before the game against ACC powerhouse Clemson.


The schedule this season is an interesting one as the Mountaineers get a potential top ten team early before a bye week and moving into the meat of the schedule. I believe games against two through six on this list are peer competition games which could go either way with no huge surprise. The second half of the teams on the list are games Appalachian should win. Using this formula the boys on the Mountain should be bowl eligible when it is all said and done.

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