BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State continues its march toward the Sun Belt Conference title when it hosts heavy underdog Texas State on Saturday. The No. 22 Mountaineers solidified their grip on the East Division lead with a 56-27 victory over Georgia State last week and have a chance to finish as the highest-ranked group of five conference team, which receives a New Year's Day bowl bid.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, No TV. LINE: Appalachian State -30
Appalachian State junior running back Darrynton Evans went over 1,000 yards for the second straight season last week with 131 yards while scoring his 12th and 13 touchdowns of the season. "I would say the offensive line was more excited than I was once I got to the sidelines,'' Evans told reporters. "That's a major accomplishment and something you set at the beginning of the year, a solo goal, but it's really a team effort." The Bobcats are coming off a 63-27 loss to Troy for their fourth setback in five games, allowing the most points since a 68-28 loss at Houston on Sept. 4, 2010. The Mountaineers have won all three meetings by a combined 93-30, including 38-7 last season behind two TD passes by junior quarterback Zac Thomas and two TD runs from Evans.
ABOUT TEXAS STATE (3-7, 2-4 Sun Belt)
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Vitt recorded career highs of 29 completions and four interceptions - all led to touchdowns - against Troy. Sophomore wide receiver Trevis Graham Jr. has scored four TDs with no other Bobcat scoring more than two as the club averages only 18.7 points - 119th among the 130 FBS teams. Senior linebacker Bryan London II is third in the Sun Belt with 9.4 tackles per game.
ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE (9-1, 5-1)
Thomas (18 touchdowns, five interceptions) improved to 19-3 as a starter after throwing a career-high four TD passes last week. Junior wide receiver Corey Xavier Sutton caught eight passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns - all career highs - versus Georgia State, doubling his TD total for the season. Sophomore Shaun Jolly was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week after recording two interceptions and breaking up three passes last week - both career highs - and is tied for fourth nationally with five picks.
1. The Mountaineers are one of six teams who have won at least nine games in each of the last five seasons, joining No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 5 Alabama, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 19 Boise State.
2. Thomas has 3,999 career passing yards while Evans sits at 3,984 all-purpose yards.
3. The Mountaineers are the first Sun Belt team to start 9-1 since the conference became an FBS member in 2001.
PREDICTION: Appalachian State 42, Texas State 10