Liberty (3-3) faces their first ever Sun Belt Conference team when they head to Boone, North Carolina to square off against Appalachian State (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) this Saturday at 3:30. This will be the 10th meeting between the two programs. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series with the Flames 7-2.
Why App State can win this game
They are FBS. They have 85 scholarship players. Liberty has 63. App should be better and have more depth and should be able to wear down Liberty as the game progresses.
Appalachian State is hungry for a win. The Mountaineers are 1-4 on the season and have lost 3 straight including last week’s 47-21 home loss to South Alabama. ASU has this game marked on the schedule as a win, and will be focused on the task at hand.
Liberty’s injuries, particularly on defense, are mounting. The Flames are again without linebackers Nick Sigmon and Jimmy O’Grady, and also lost defensive back Wes Scott to injury during the Richmond game.
Why Liberty can win this game
This is not your father’s Mountaineers. Isn’t that the saying? This is not the same team that won 3 consecutive national championships from 2005-2007. This is not the same team that won the Southern Conference 7 out of 8 years from 2005-2012. App State is 5-12 over the past 2 seasons including a home loss to Charleston Southern last year, 27-24.
The Flames can compete with teams at this level. They have proven it repeatedly throughout Coach Gill’s tenure. LU competed with North Carolina late into the 3rd quarter earlier this year. Last season, the Flames were leading Old Dominion late in the 4th quarter. The Kent State and Wake Forest games were decided by a total of 10 points.
Darrin Peterson is a man-child. He leads all of FCS with 709 receiving yards on the season. App State’s top 4 receivers have a combined 722 receiving yards. Petey has gone over 100 yards receiving in each of his last 4 games. No one has been able to defend him, not even North Carolina.
X-Factor for this game
Getting off to a fast start. After losing their last 2 games, and in the way they lost them, Liberty’s confidence has to be shaken right now. If the Flames fall behind early, this could compound. Combine this with the fact that Appalachian State has struggled in the 1st quarter this season, being outscored 41-10, and it becomes paramount for LU’s success Saturday.