The WrApp-Up: Presbyterian

Sorry for the delay in posting this – yesterday was a long day at work and I didn’t get a chance to get on here.  So for what it’s worth – here’s a recap. 

At first glance of a 48-14 scoreline, one might think that it was all Apps from start to finish.  But for the first half of play, that was far from the case.  PC scored on their first drive and remained close throughout the entire half.  The Blue Hose passing attack kept the Mountaineers on their heels and went in the locker room trailing only 17-14 at the half.

Second half – different story.  407 yards of offense (367 on the ground) and four touchdowns later and the Mountaineers had a nice victory to celebrate.  One of the most encouraging aspects of the second half point explosion is that the production came from young, untested players.  Virginia Tech transfer Devin Radford racked up 251 yards of offense (179 on the ground, 72 in the air) and three touchdowns.  Backup quarterback DeAndre Presley ran the ball 5 times for 37 yards and two scores and also completed a pass for 58 yards.

Fun fact:  After his performance on Saturday, Armanti Edwards now sits at third in Southern Conference history with 7,747 total yards of offense in his career. 

Here’s this game’s story links:

Big Second Half Propels Appalachian Past Presbyterian 48-14   (GoASU.com)

Mountaineers Rebound   (News & Observer)

Big Second Half lifts Mountaineers to win  (Winston-Salem Journal)

So what’s next? The non-conference schedule is done and it’s time for the Southern Conference.  Five teams are currently ranked.  The Mountaineers rose to No. 2 this weekend after Richmond’s loss to Villanova knocked them down a few pegs.  James Madison sits atop the poll.  Elon is No. 7, Wofford is No. 9, The Citadel is No. 12 and Furman is No. 15.  Georgia Southern could easily be ranked as well, losing two very close games to Elon and Wofford. 

Four games in and the Mountaineers have yet to put two halves of football together (except for the Jacksonville win – which doesn’t count).  All five of these games will require the Mountaineers’ best efforts if Appalachian hopes win a fourth straight conference title.  With the strength of the Southern Conference this season, I think it’s a safe bet that you’ll see three SoCon teams get bids to the playoffs.  The question remains, can this team finish in the top three?

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The Picks

After a couple of weeks of knocking on the door of a perfect week of picks, I finally broke through and went 6-0 last week. I was particularly pleased with my picks of the LSU, Wake Forest and VT wins. I even called the Georgia score exactly. The lesson here – I’m a genius. Here’s your genius picks for the week:

FBS

North Carolina @ Miami – UNC had their chance to establish themselves at the top of the ACC with a win over VT, but blew the lead and lost their starting quarterback. The loss could send the rest of the Heels’ season into a tailspin. Miami, despite its youth, is definitely on the upswing with a dominant win over Texas A&M last week. Miami 24, UNC 10.

Colorado @ Florida State – The Seminoles’ program is a smoldering heap of what it used to be. Last week’s loss to Wake Forest established the passing of the torch. FSU needs to find a way to force Bowden out before things get even worse. Colorado 21, Florida State 14.

Tennessee @ No. 15 Auburn – With all the SEC spotlight on this weekend’s Bama-Georgia game, this game hasn’t received the attention that it might on a different week. Tennessee (and Phil Fulmer) need a win to right the ship after an unimpressive start to the season. The loss to UCLA looks even worse now and the Gators took apart the Vols with ease. A 1-3 start to the season is the last thing the Vols need. BUT – they now have to travel to Auburn who threw away a lead against the defending national champions. Auburn 21, Tennessee 6.

No. 25 Fresno State @ UCLA – After an exciting win on the opening weekend, things have gotten progessively worse for Rick Neuheisel’s reclamation project at UCLA. After an embarrassing loss to one of the nation’s best non-BCS teams, the Bruins follow it up with another lopsided loss to one of the worst teams in the Pac-10. Fresno State rolls. Fresno State 31, UCLA 7.

No. 8 Alabama @ No. 3 Georgia – The game of the week – an epic showdown between two of the SEC’s best. Georgia’s fans and team are planning a blackout to add some extra hype to the game. However, according to one of the Alabama’s coaches, Georgia is only wearing black because they are “going to a motherf*****g funeral.” I’m not completely sold on Bama yet and I don’t think they are truly the 8th best in the nation. I’m going to stick with the smart bet here. Georgia 17, Alabama 10.

No. 22 Illinois @ No. 12 Penn State – Penn State has comprehensively dismantled every team it’s played this season. Even with JoePa coaching from the box, this is a REALLY good football team. I think they’ve managed to stay under the radar with all the attention on Ohio State this year. The Nittany Lions are my pick to win the Big Ten this year. Penn State 30, Illinois 14.

FCS

No. 14 Wofford @ No. 24 Georgia Southern – Another big SoCon game for both of these teams. The Eagles faltered late last week and lost on a late field goal to Elon. Wofford’s offense looked impressive, putting up more yards on the South Carolina defense than Georgia did. I’m giving the edge to Wofford. Wofford 27, Georgia Southern 21.

Season Record

Overall: 19-7

FBS: 16-4

FCS: 3-3

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The 411 on…Presbyterian

An introduction: The Presbyterian Blue Hose (their mascot is a Scotsman clad in a kilt with blue stockings) come from Clinton, South Carolina. Presbyterian is a private liberal arts school with approximately 1,300 students. Fun fact: PC is also home to Cyrus, the largest bronze statue of a Scotsman in the world (per Wikipedia). The Blue Hose are in the second year of a 4-year transition into competition at the FCS level. Last year was their first year at the level and the team finished with a 6-5 record. Presbyterian competes in the Big South Conference.

Last season and this season, so far: As mentioned above, PC ended their first campaign at the FCS on a winning note. The Blue Hose played only three homes games, winning all three. Common opponents with the Apps – Furman (40-16 loss) and Western Carolina (33-20 loss). This year, PC is getting a heavy dose of Southern Conference football. Four of their seven non-conference games are against SoCon teams (Wofford, Elon, Western Carolina and Appalachian State). The results so far: Three losses. The Blue Hose’s only win came at home against Fayetteville State. Worst loss: A 66-12 hammering by Elon. PC allowed 667 yards of offense as Elon QB Scott Riddle lit them up for 386 yards and three touchdowns.

Last week: PC blew a second half lead against Western Carolina last week to lose 23-21 at home. The Blue Hose took a 14-9 lead into the fourth quarter but the Catamounts scored 14 of the game’s final 21 points to break PC’s six-game home winning streak. Needless to say, a loss to the hapless Catamounts doesn’t strike much fear in the hearts of your next opponent.

Stat Leaders: Passing – Tim Webb, 91-152, 59.9% completion rate, 956 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 125.3 QB rating; Rushing – S.J. Worrell, 40 carries for 146 yards, 1 TD; Receiving – Terrance Butler, 24 catches for 317 yards, 4 TDs.

Team Offense: 23 points per game, 83.8 rushing yards per game, 239 passing yards per game.

Team Defense: 38.8 points per game, 250 rushing yards per game, 258 passing yards per game.

Record: 1-3.

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The WrApp-Up: JMU

I’ve been delaying this post all weekend.  I still don’t know what to write about this tough loss.  In a reversal of fortune, it was a late fumble that cost the Apps this time and not the Dukes.  If the game had been televised on ESPN, it’d be replayed on ESPN Classic almost immediately.  However, that’s little solace for an Appalachian fan.  Despite falling behind 21-0, James Madison never got down and powered their way back for the win.  Key quote from Coach Moore:

“They did a terrific job of fighting back in the second half,” said Moore. “Really good teams become great teams doing what they did tonight. They got some good momentum in the third quarter and played off that.”

 So, speaking of going from good to great, where does this Appalachian team go next? We’re not in mayday mode or anything yet.  Some who had predicted us to be at 1-2 at this point in the season wouldn’t be crazy.  We lost as expected at LSU, defeated a much weaker opponent (Jacksonville), and lost a tough road game against a very talented James Madison team looking for revenge.  I don’t want to get all Mickey Matthews on everyone and start talking about a bunch of what-ifs and could’ve-beens, but the No. 1 team in the nation shouldn’t blow a 21-0 halftime lead.  We really should be 2-1.  But we’re not and we have to move forward.  Looking ahead, we have three VERY winnable games (Presbyterian, Citadel, Samford) before our shot at Georgia Southern.  Let’s hope the team responds like it did last year and wins out on the way to the playoffs.   

 Here’s your story links:

Second Half Rally Stuns App at JMU  (GoASU.com)

JMU dethrones No. 1 Appalachian State (The Sports Network)

JMU surprises Appalachian State 35-32 (Winston-Salem Journal)

No. 5 JMU knocks off No. 1 Appalachian State (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

 

This picture sums the game up:

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The Picks

Another good 4-1 performance last week in FBS games continue to make me look good in that category, however I’ve struggled in the FCS category. I really didn’t expect James Madison to roll over UMass like they did and I really didn’t expect them to put up 866 yards of offense. For the first time this season, we’ve finally got a full slate of some potentially exciting games. All of the games I’m going to attempt to pick this week will have an impact on either a conference title or who plays in the national title game. Since I haven’t done very well in the FCS games, I’m going to start to focus on Southern Conference games to have a better chance at success.

FBS

No. 4 Florida @ Tennessee – Tennessee has not looked very sharp so far this season, blowing a game to an average UCLA team on Labor Day and then struggling early against powerhouse (feel the sarcasm) UAB last week before blowing the game wide open. Tim Tebow and Co. come to town for their first true test of the season. Even though the Gators have played two Division I teams, they really haven’t been challenged. I really think Tennessee is going to have a down year this season and expect the Gators to stroll. Florida 24, Tennessee 10.

Virginia Tech @ North Carolina – The Hokies have not looked impressive at all in 2008. This isn’t your typical Frank Beamer team. The Heels are hoping to continue their “resurgence” under Butch Davis. I use that term loosely because of the usual arrogance of your sterotypical Tar Heels fan. Regardless of how these teams stand nationally, this is an important match-up in the abysmal ACC. I’ve seen experts who have circled this game as THE game for determining the winner of the division. I think Tech does just enough to keep the Heels on the back foot. Virginia Tech 17, UNC 13.

No. 18 Wake Forest @ No. 24 Florida State – Any joker who has actually ranked Florida State simply because they’ve obliterated two FCS teams is an idiot. Blowing out two of the WORST teams in the Southern Conference does not make you the 24th best team in the land. I still think the Seminoles are no better than an 8-win team. Wake Forest is the class of the ACC (wow, weird to say). I think the Demon Deacons win in Tallahassee and force ol’ Bobby a little closer to the exit. Wake Forest 23, Florida State 17.

No. 6 LSU @ No. 10 Auburn – This may be the most crucial game of the week. The winner here sets the pace in the SEC West and is in the driver’s seat to get to the SEC Title game. I remain steadfast in my belief that the winner of the SEC absolutely should be in the national title game. The stakes here are huge and this is a titanic showdown. The home team has won this game the last eight times. Auburn won a slugfest last week against Miss State and LSU has not been tested yet. However, Auburn’s offense has looked a little sloppy while trying to implement the spread offense which could be trouble against LSU’s fast and talented defense. Home-field advantage aside, I have to go with LSU. LSU 16, Auburn 9.

No. 3 Georgia @ Arizona State – The Bulldogs survived a scare at South Carolina last week (and really should’ve lost). Arizona State suffered a shocking upset against UNLV and will be looking to prove themselves again. Side note, this is Georgia’s first trip outside of the Southeast (not including bowl games) since the 1960s. Despite the new surroundings, UGA is too good. Georgia 27, Arizona State 10.

FCS

No. 17 Elon @ No. 16 Georgia Southern – Big game for both teams.  Georgia Southern is trying to return to prominence and Elon is trying to prove to doubters that they are a playoff team.  Elon is the better team here.  Elon 28, Ga. Southern 17.

Season Record:

Overall: 13-7

FBS: 11-4

FCS: 2-3

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The 411 on…No. 5 James Madison

An introduction to the James Madison Dukes…As if any Appalachian fan needs an introduction to the Dukes from James Madison.  The Dukes came to Boone in Year 2 of the Dynasty in a game billed as a Battle of Champions (JMU won the national title in 2004).  The Apps won 21-10 as we saw the first glimpses of ability from Armanti Edwards.  The next meeting would have a lot more on the line when the Dukes came back to Boone last November for a first-round playoff showdown at The Rock.  JMU managed to keep the potent ASU off the field with over 40 minutes of possession.  However, a few bonehead calls by coach Mickey Matthews fumbled (literally) the game away and the Dukes were sent home crying.  The key play (and the one that I’m sure has motivated JMU all off-season) – Trailing 28-27 and deep in Appalachian territory with only seconds remaining, the Dukes elect to run one more play before attempting a chip-shot field goal that would win the game.  The result – a fumble recovered by the Apps to preserve the Dynasty.   

Last season: See above for the only thing you really need to know about last season for the Dukes.  Cue redemption article here.

Last week: James Madison is coming off a MASSIVE win 52-38 win over CAA foe UMass. JMU QB Rodney Landers exploded for over 200 yards of rushing in a game that featured 866 total yards of offense from both teams.  The Dukes raced to a 31-10 lead at halftime but the Minutemen managed to cut the score to 45-38 with six minutes remaining.  However, JMU’s Griff Yancey scored his third TD of the second half with 1:56 left to secure the win. 

Stat Leaders: Passing – Rodney Landers, 21-32, 300 yards, 66% completion rate, 158.8 QB Rating; Rushing – Rodney Landers, 45 carries for 333 yards, 4 TD (Longest carry: 47 yards, TD); Receiving – Kerby Long, 6 receptions for 95 yards, 1 TD, (Longest catch: 47 yards, TD).

Team Offense: 38 points per game, 267 yards rushing per game; 103 yards passing per game.

Team Defense: 25 points per game, 134 yards rushing per game, 202 yards passing per game.

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The Picks

I was nearly perfect last week in FBS picks (I just couldn’t go with ECU to pull off an upset two weeks a row and I paid for it). We’re finally getting into the interesting part of the season and there are some really good games on tap this weekend. Obviously the Southern Cal-Ohio State tilt is going to get the most press, but there’s some other very underrated and potentially exciting match-ups.

FBS

No. 13 Kansas @ No. 19 South Florida – Both teams were surprise successes last year and have started out this year’s campaign on a solid note. Kansas QB Todd Reesing has already thrown for 668 yards and 6 touchdowns this year, but South Florida has a fierce front-line which should have some success getting to Reesing. USF’s Matt Grothe does a good job of moving the Bulls’ offense as well. I think their defense and playing home gives South Florida the edge. South Florida 31, Kansas 24.

UCLA @ No. 18 BYU – UCLA will be looking for revenge after losing to BYU on a blocked FG in last year’s Sun Bowl. The Bruins haven’t played since their opening weekend win over Tennessee while BYU needed a blocked extra point on the last play of the game to beat Pac-10 doormat Washington. If this game was in LA, I’d give the edge to UCLA – but I’m going to go with BYU at home. BYU 17, UCLA 14.

No. 5 Ohio State @ No. 1 USC – Like many of you, I’m tired of seeing Ohio State in the BCS Title game. I’m not a huge Southern Cal fan either, but I do think they have the edge in this one. Unless Beanie Wells is able to come back 110%, I don’t expect the Buckeyes to keep this one very close. They looked terrible last week against lowly Ohio. Southern Cal 31, Ohio State 7.

No. 10 Wisconsin @ No. 21 Fresno State – Fresno State will be geared up for this one as they get to welcome a BCS and nationally prominent team to Fresno. The Badgers love to pound the ball and Fresno State will be expecting the run. I think the hostile environment will be a big test for Wisconsin and this will be a close one. Wisconsin 21, Fresno State 20.

Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech – I went with Georgia Tech last week on the picks (I promise I won’t put them up every week). Virginia Tech struggled last week against Furman. The Yellow Jackets picked up a key win at Boston College last weekend. VT has yet to impress me this year and I think GT gets another crucial ACC road win. Georgia Tech 24, Virginia Tech 13.

FCS

No. 3 UMass @ No. 7 James Madison – Two of the powers of the Colonial Athletic Association square off in Harrisonburg in a crucial conference clash. The Apps roll into JMU next weekend and the Dukes might not be totally focused on their game against the Minutemen. If UMass can shut down the Dukes’ running game, they’ll be in good shape. UMass 17, James Madison 13.

Season Record

Overall: 9-5

FBS: 7-3

FCS: 2-2

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