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Avocados From Mexico Cure Bowl – Appalachian State vs Miami (OH)



Avocados From Mexico Cure Bowl pits Appalachian State vs Miami (OH).


Broadcast Information

• Kickoff 3:30 PM Eastern time on ABC

• Bob Wischusen, Robert Griffin III, and Kris Budden will have the call

• Bowl Season Radio: Jamie Seh, Rene Ingoglia, and Despina Barton


Avocados From Mexico Cure Bowl – Appalachian State vs Miami (OH)

Miami (OH) looks to win their 12th game of the season, after taking home the MAC championship over Toledo just two weeks ago. A far cry from where they were a decade ago, going 0-12 in 2013.  Their only two losses on the year were to ACC member Miami (7-5 overall) and Toledo earlier in the season, 21-17. Miami has won most of its games on the backbone of its strong defense (27th). The Red Hawks offense comes in ranked 100th in the country. Almost a reversed look from their Mountaineer counterparts, (Defense 80th, Offense 20th). App State dropped the Sun Belt championship to Troy but had won five straight before that, including the victory of a ranked, and previously undefeated, JMU squad. This is the classic offense vs defense matchup.  However, just like most teams these days, the transfer portal will have a heavy impact on the on-field play in this game.


Key Players

QB Joey Aguliar – Appalachian State

WR Kaedin Robinson – Appalachian State

LB Andrew Parker Jr. – Appalachian State

RB Kayne Roberts – Appalachian State

RB Rashad Amos – Miami (OH)

K Graham Nicholson – Miami (OH)

WR Gage Larvadain – Miami (OH)

DL Caiden Woullard – Miami (OH)

Key Match-ups

For Appalachian State, the weather could play another important role in this game, just like it did for their championship matchup with Troy.  But on the plus side, the team now has experience in those conditions and it could play to their advantage.


App State’s defense struggled to stop the run vs the Trojans in that matchup, giving up 233 yards and 5, yes 5(!) TD’s to Kimani Vidal. Aguilar has been the man since his first throw of the season (a 32-yard dart to Kaedin Robinson for a TD vs Gardner-Webb). Nate Noel (now in the transfer portal) was one of the nation's leading rushers through the first five weeks of the season, but injuries slowed down his production, and in stepped the new blood in Kanye Roberts. Roberts has surpassed 100 yards three times this season, even though the Mountaineers have used three and sometimes up to four, RBs per game. The Mountaineers must do a better job of producing in the rushing game to move the ball more successfully than they did vs the Trojans.  To help that, they can look toward their depth at the WR position. Boasting a roster with eight players with 300 plus yards on the season, including TE Eli Wilson. If Aguilar and company have early success, it allow the Mountaineers to run the offense they prefer, a time-consuming ball control game that forces the Red Hawks to stop them.


On the other side of the field, Miami (OH) will likely have an inexperienced QB at the helm. Brett Gabbert started the year but suffered a season-ending injury in the Toledo game.  Aveon Smith came in and helped lead the Red Hawks to a MAC title, but he’s entered the transfer portal.  They likely now turn to Henry Hesson, who hasn’t thrown a single pass this season.  The Mountaineers defense will be excited to hear about that, but it could work towards Miami’s favor early in the game since there won’t be any real game film to watch on Hesson. This would lead one to believe that Miami will focus heavily on the rushing attack sitting almost exclusively on Rashad Amos’ shoulders. Amos has rushed for more yards than any App State RB this season (895) while also having 12 TDs. It would take App’s top two RBs to equal that same scoring output. The defense for App State allowed an average of 181.3 rushing yards per game, firmly placing them at 111th overall in the NCAA. The Red Hawks will certainly have success in the ground game.


The defense will also play a big role in the Red Hawks' success.  The team of Caiden Woullard and Brian Ugwu on the defensive line has combined for 17.5 sacks this season.  Backed closely by the linebacking duo of Ty Wise and Matt Salopek who together accounted for 244 total tackles. But their ‘secret weapon’ in all of this may just be K Graham Nicholson who was named the Lou Groza Award winner, given to the nation's best kicker.  The Red Hawks may not be a threat in the passing game, but they may still have success through the air when it leaves Nicholson’s foot!


Prediction

Both teams will look to establish the run early.  App State can convert in longer yardage situations that Miami just won’t be able to match. The question certainly becomes, can App State’s defense do enough to slow down the Red Hawk rushing attack?’ I think they can as I don’t think Amos is the same style runner as Vidal was.  Before the championship game, the App State defense had kept their last two opponents to under 100 yards rushing as a team (one of those teams being a ranked JMU).

I don’t see App State scoring a lot of points in this one with the quality of the Red Hawks defense but I don’t think Miami lights up the scoreboard either. A slow start after long layoffs for both teams keeps the clock moving with the scoring picking up slightly in the second half. Nicholson’s foot helps keep it close but the Mountaineers round back into late-season form and take out the MAC champs, 24-20.

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