2018 New Orleans Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Party on Poydras Street.
Down in NOLA comes the 2018 New Orleans Bowl, the final game of the first day of bowl season.
Getting to play in an NFL stadium, no less one that has housed some of college football’s biggest games as well as Super Bowls, must be a great experience for the players. This year, those players come from the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. App State are the champions of the Sun Belt once again while Middle Tennessee fell in the Conference USA championship game.
Two teams that excelled within their Group of Five conferences do battle in the shadow of the French Quarter. See our read on the game and then our pick.
2018 New Orleans Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Saturday, December 15, 2018, 9:00pm ET (6:00pm PT)|
|Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$925,000 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Appalachian State is a 7-point favorite|
2018 New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State Mountaineers
|10-2 (7-1 Sun Belt); 2018 Sun Belt champions|
|Best Win: Troy|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 20th, Total Offense 42nd, Rushing Offense 15th, 3rd Downs T-58th, Time of Possession 37th, Turnover Margin T-22nd, Sacks Allowed T-26th, Red Zone 72nd|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 6th, Total Defense 6th, Rushing Defense 30th, Opponent 3rd Downs 10th, Sacks Per Game T-87th, TFL Per Game T-60th, Interceptions T-14th, Opponent Red Zone 48th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-62nd, Punts Per Game T-85th|
2018 New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
|8-5 (7-1 Conference USA); C-USA East champions|
|Lost to UAB in the Conference USA championship game|
|Best Win: UAB (regular season)|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense T-64th, Total Offense 72nd, Rushing Offense 105th, 3rd Downs 81st, Time of Possession 57th, Turnover Margin T-44th, Sacks Allowed 108th, Red Zone 38th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 51st, Total Defense 48th, Rushing Defense 58th, Opponent 3rd Downs 108th, Sacks Per Game T-29th, TFL Per Game T-60th, Interceptions T-21st, Opponent Red Zone 17th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-64th, Punts Per Game T-65th|
2018 New Orleans Bowl: Head-to-Head
This bowl game will be the fourth all-time meeting between these two programs.
Middle Tennessee leads the series, 2-1. The prior three contests were played in 1974, 1989, and 1992.
That contest in 1992 was won by the Blue Raiders, 35-10. Please note that Appalachian State was at the FCS level at the time. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 New Orleans Bowl: Most Likely Standout Player
Brent Stockstill, QB, Middle Tennessee. Stockstill has been a rock for the Middle Tennessee offense. Over the course of his career, the senior quarterback has thrown for over 12,000 yards and 105 touchdown passes. In 2018, he added 3,214 yards and 28 touchdowns to those totals. Playing under his father, head coach Rick Stockstill, turned out well for him. All of this helped him be named the Conference USA MVP for this season. (Link: Daily News Journal)
Expect to see Stockstill have a solid game for his Middle Tennessee finale, even in the face of a respectable App State defense. Regardless of whether the Blue Raiders prevail, the offense is going to flow through his arm.
2018 New Orleans Bowl: Pick
Those who seem to be in the know favor Appalachian State. They are a 10-win conference champion with a strong defensive presence. The fact that they lost their coach to Louisville should be immaterial; these are the same players with the same system.
Based on the eye test, Middle Tennessee is an above-average Group of Five team. App State is better than above average given how their defense operates. Middle Tennessee is a one-dimensional offensive team, with Stockstill being the crux of it. They are down near the bottom of FBS in terms of rush attempts per game, which is part of why their run statistics are so unimpressive. App State, on the other hand, primarily runs the ball, but they are not unsuccessful with the pass game. Quarterback Zac Thomas has thrown 18 touchdowns and averages over 150 yards per game. Thomas can also get loose for a big run, making him another player to watch.
The Blue Raiders had a fine season, but this App State team is seasoned and a little better overall than Middle Tennessee.
Pick: Appalachian State