Dollar General Bowl Free Pick - Appalachian State vs. Toledo (12/20/17)
FREE BOWL PICK: App. State +7.5 vs. Toledo (Covers 55%)
For a second consecutive bowl game, the Mountaineers and Rockets will meet up in sweet home Alabama. Only this time, Saturday's game won't be played in Montgomery, but Mobile, host city of the Dollar General Bowl. A year ago, in the Raycom Media Bowl, Appalachian State beat Toledo by a field goal, 31-28. In that game, current Kansas City Chiefs running back, Kareem Hunt, rushed for 120 yards and two scores. While Hunt graduated to the NFL, both App. State and Toledo feature the same quarterbacks in what is expected to be a high-scoring affair boasting an O/U of 62 points.
The Mountaineers finished the regular season 8-4, winners of six of their last eight and currently in the midst of a three-game winning streak. They averaged 33.4 points per game, which ranked 32nd nationally. Their defense allowed fewer than 22 points per game to finish the season ranked inside the top 35. If you remove their season opening loss to College Football Playoff qualifier, Georgia, the Mountaineers lost three games by a combined 11 points. In their eight wins, their margin of victory was 21.3 points.
Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb passed for more than 2,600 yards with 27 touchdowns and only six interceptions, while also rushing for 539 yards and five more scores. The Mountaineers rushing game versus the Rockets rush defense is a matchup to watch. Led by Lamb and junior running back Jalin Moore, Appalachian State averaged 215 rush yards per game – 28th nationally. Toledo's rush defense can be exploited as they ranked 68th in the nation at 166 RYAPG.
However, the red zone is where this came will be won or lost. Toledo may have ranked second in the nation in red zone attempts with 67. Despite this incredible feat, they finished with 36 touchdowns and had to settle for 21 (!) field goals. Now, compare that to the Mountaineers' 33 touchdowns on 50 trips to the red zone. App. State's 66% red zone TD% ranked 39th versus Toledo's 53.7%, which ranked 105th out of 130 FBS teams. Opposing offenses converted 82% of their red zone trips against the Mountaineers with a 19:13 TD:FG ratio. If Toledo is forced to accept field goals, that 3-4-point swing will keep Appalachian State around in this bowl game.
According to 50,000 games played by our simulation engine at PredictionMachine.com, Appalachian State loses by an average score of 34-30, but covers the +7.5 points 55% of the time. This would justify a $28 wager for an average $50 bettor.
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