The Inaugural Myrtle Beach Bowl kicks off on Monday, December 21st at 2:30 p.m. The matchup will feature Appalachian State (8-3) from the Sun Belt and North Texas (4-5) from Conference USA.
Only days after Coastal Carolina battles Louisiana for the Sun Belt Championship, the Chanticleers’ Brooks Stadium will be the host of the Myrtle Beach Bowl.
The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be the first of the 2020 postseason. Appalachian State enters a 19-point favorite with a five-game winning streak in bowl games since 2015. During that span, North Texas is 0-3 and will try to end its bowl game losing streak.
2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl Preview
Appalachian State Mountaineers
Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, Appalachian State has done nothing but win bowl games. The last two games have been against Conference USA opponents in the New Orleans Bowl. Both games were blowouts, with Appalachian State defeating Middle Tennessee 45-13 in 2018 and UAB 31-17 in 2019.
This will be ASU’s second game at Brooks Stadium this year. Their first was on November 21st in a 34-23 loss to Coastal Carolina.
The defending Sun Belt Conference Champions took a small step back this year but played well overall. The Mountaineers lost early to Marshall but won the next five against a mainly conference schedule. The back end of the season was the most difficult, and ASU lost two of its last four. However, after losses to Marshall, Louisiana, and Coastal Carolina, ASU’s only losses were to teams playing in their conference championship games.
Zac Thomas is the experienced starting quarterback for the Mountaineers. Over his career, he has nearly 7,000 passing yards, 68 passing touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. He also averages just under four-and-a-half yards per passing attempt and has 19 rushing touchdowns. This season, Thomas has 2,075 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
In fewer games than normal in 2020, most of his numbers are down from last season, except for interceptions. Thomas had 12 interceptions in his previous two years combined, but in only 11 games in 2020 he has 11 interceptions.
Thomas has led the Mountaineers to the second-lowest passing offense in the Sun Belt, with only 191.6 passing yards per game. But where the passing offense falters, the rushing attack picks up the offense. ASU’s rushing offense is second in the conference in rushing yards per game, behind triple-option team Georgia Southern.
Camerun Peoples and Daetrich Harrington are the two-headed monster in the backfield. Peoples leads the team with 146 attempts, 807 yards, five-and-a-half yards per carry, and seven touchdowns. Harrington isn’t far behind with 104 attempts, 595 yards, just over five-and-a-half yards per carry, and seven touchdowns.
The Mountaineers have the second-best scoring defense in the Sun Belt. Trey Cobb and D’Marco Jackson lead the team in tackles, with 79 and 75 respectively. Demetrius Taylor leads the team with six sacks, and on the back end, Brennan Harrington leads with four interceptions.
North Texas Mean Green
While the Mountaineers have had good fortune lately, the Mean Green have not.
After a win against Houston Baptist, North Texas lost its next three games. They won the next two games, which, after a slew of postponements, were 28 days apart. North Texas lost two games after that, winning its finale against UTEP.
The Mean Green are 3-4 in conference play and are in fourth place in the West Division.
Interestingly, North Texas is 3-1 when Bean is the leading passer, and 1-4 when it’s Aune.
The team leader in most passing categories is Aune, with 185 attempts, 101 completions, 1,650 yards, 13 yards, and four interceptions. Bean, in only 109 attempts has 58 completions, 880 yards, 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
The rotation works, as North Texas has the best passing offense in Conference USA by over 50 yards per game.
Jaelon Darden is the leading receiver, with 74 receptions, 1190 yards, and 19 touchdowns.
The Mean Green also has the best rushing offense in the conference with 230.2 pounds per game. Deandre Torrey leads the charge with 113 rushes for 656 yards and six touchdowns.
Ironically, while North Texas has the best offense in the conference, it also has the worst passing, rushing, and scoring defense. In all of their losses, they gave up 41 or more points.
ASU has the more complete team, so they enter favored by almost three touchdowns. North Texas doesn’t have a win against a winning team yet this season, so it’s difficult to see them defeating a conference championship contender like ASU.
Look for both teams to extend their bowl streaks on Monday.