The 2019 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl pits the Sun Belt champion Appalachian State Mountaineers against the UAB Blazers. This match-up will be an intriguing one to watch on Saturday. The game kicks off at 8 pm central time from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Mountaineers finished the regular season as one of the best Group of Five teams in the country. Appalachian State comes in with a 12-1 record, while UAB is 9-4.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Preview
Appalachian State had its best season in program history in 2019. They are the first Sun Belt school to finish the season ranked in the Top 25. Coming in at No. 21, the Mountaineers are well deserving of their ranking. Their two Power Five wins over North Carolina and South Carolina paved the way for their historic season. Quarterback Zac Thomas is the leader of the offense. App State is averaging nearly 40 points per game. The 2019 Sun Belt champions’ only loss came to Georgia Southern at home in October. Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz is headed to Missouri to coach the Tigers. Could his departure have an effect on the Mountaineers’ players during the bowl game?
For App State, finishing 13-1 would complete their historic season. Huge wins over the Tar Heels of North Carolina and the Gamecocks of South Carolina set up their great season. In Sun Belt play, the Mountaineers dominated, outside of the loss in October. To win the Sun Belt, App State took down the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns twice, once in the regular season and again in the conference title game.
The Mountaineers are a tough team to line up against. Thomas has weapons on the outside, mainly in Thomas Hennigan and Corey Sutton. On the season, Thomas passed for over 2,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. Running back Darrynton Evans was a 1,000-yard rusher in the backfield.
Defensively, the Mountaineers are only allowing 20 points per game. This Appalachian State defense is stingy in the rush defense but can defend the pass well too.
UAB Blazers: How They Got Here
Leave no doubt, Bill Clark has rebuilt UAB into a powerhouse program in Conference USA. After the program shut down a few years ago, the Blazers have won nine, 10, and now nine games. The Blazers are led by quarterback Tyler Johnston III on the offense. Despite losing the conference title to Florida Atlantic, the Blazers still put forth a great season. On offense, UAB is averaging 23 points per game and 352 yards per outing. Blazers’ tailback Spencer Brown scored five touchdowns with 527 rushing yards on the year.
The Blazers have been one of the best story teams in the country in the past few years. Going into the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, another chapter can be written. They have a chance to earn a big win in their final game of the year. Playing against a Group of Five team in Appalachian State will provide a difficult challenge. However, the Blazers just have to get into the red zone and execute.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Prediction
Both Appalachian State and UAB had great seasons. The Mountaineers might have surprised a lot of people coming out of the Sun Belt. For the Blazers of UAB, this game provides a unique opportunity. A chance to beat a great coached football team. Despite Drinkwitz leaving for Missouri, the Mountaineers will be unaffected by the departure. Thomas and the App State offense click early and continue to roll. Mountaineers win 31-17.