The college football bowl season begins with a 5-game slate on December 16, and among the first contests is the Cure Bowl, where Appalachian State is the betting favorite to take down Miami-Ohio.
- Appalachian State -3½ (-109)
- Over 48½ (-109)
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – 03:30 PM ET at FBC Mortgage Stadium
Who knew the avocado industry was lucrative enough to sponsor a bowl game? Following reports this spring about cartels controlling the avocado business, we can now rest assured that isn’t true since we know the NCAA would never do business with such shady entrepreneurs.
But seriously, this year’s Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl in Orlando is serious business for the Miami (OH) of the MAC and the Sun Belt’s Appalachian, each looking to finish off winning seasons with a little postseason hardware.
Programs Collide for 1st Time
ABC’s cameras will be on hand to document the first meeting between the RedHawks and Mountaineers. After opening Appalachian State -4½, sharp sportsbooks have adjusted that spread down a point to 3½. The contest is a midafternoon affair on the first full Saturday of the bowl season, and carries 48½ for the scoreboard target.
Miami (OH) will be facing a Sun Belt team for the first time since dropping a 27-17 decision to Louisiana-Lafayette in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl. The RedHawks were getting a whopping 16 in that game, their only Sun Belt matchup since 2010.
Appalachian State is facing its first MAC squad since blanking Toledo 34-0 in the 2017 Dollar General Bowl. The Mountaineers were getting 6 in that contest, and they are 3-0 against MAC teams in bowl games since moving to the FBS level in 2014.
RedHawks Off Upset Win in MAC Title Tilt
Being the underdog shouldn’t be an issue for Chuck Martin and his RedHawks. Miami (OH) won the MAC Championship as a 6½-point underdog at Caesars Sportsbook (check our Caesars Sportsbook Review), topping Toledo by a 23-14 margin to extend its win streak to five and move to an impressive 11-2 on the season.
The RedHawks were underdogs in five of their contests this season, and went 3-2 both straight-up and against the spread in those matchups.
Beating the Rockets in the MAC Championship gained a little revenge for Miami (OH) after dropping a 21-17 decision at home to Toledo on October 21. The RedHawks lost junior QB Brett Gabbert to a broken right leg in the loss.
Enter Aveon Smith, a sophomore from South Carolina, who didn’t put up monster numbers in relief of Gabbert, but did just enough to guide the RedHawks to a 5-0 record down the stretch.
Indeed, Miami (OH) ranked in the middle of the MAC in terms of offensive yards, but made the most of their opportunities to rank second in the league in scoring (26.9 ppg). The RedHawks also ranked second in the MAC in scoring defense (16.2 ppg), and fourth in fewest yards allowed (325.9 ypg).
App State’s 34.8 PPG 2nd in Sun Belt
Shawn Clarke and the Mountaineers took a 5-game win streak into last week’s Sun Belt Championship but saw it end in a 49-23 defeat at the hands of Troy. Appalachian State was getting 5½ on the NCAAF odds boards playing on the Trojans’ home field, and succumbed to Troy’s 28-point fourth quarter.
Appalachian State also succumbed to the relentless running of Troy tailback Kimani Vidal who rushed for 233 yards on 26 carries, five of those totes for touchdowns.
The Mountaineers allowed a season-high five sacks after entering the game with just 15 sacks in their first 11 games combined. Joey Aguilar completed 28-of-39 passes for 275 yards, but the junior signal caller also coughed up a couple of fumbles that Troy turned into 14 points.
Appalachian State was second in the Sun Belt in scoring (34.8 ppg) and third in total offense (450 ypg). The defense, however, was middling in the league surrendering 390 YPG and 28+ PPG, both ranking eighth in the Sun Belt Conference.
Both Schools Fell in Most-Recent Bowl Appearances
Discounting the goofy 2020 campaign, Miami (OH) is making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance under Martin, a new school record that breaks the string of three consecutive Tangerine Bowl appearances from 1973-75.
It is the 14th bowl for the RedHawks who have gone 8-5 up to now. They lost to UAB in last year’s Bahamas Bowl, 24-20, but managed to cover as 11-point underdogs in a game that just stopped short of the total.
Appalachian State missed the bowl season last year, halting a string of 7-straight postseason trips. This is the Mountaineers’ eighth bowl game in the 10 years since moving up to the FBS level. They won the first six before dropping the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl in a 59-38 final to Western Kentucky.
Appalachian State’s defense would concern me if the unit was going up against a more dynamic offense than what Miami (OH) brings to the table. And I’ll be adding an ‘over’ in what my crystal ball says will be a 30-23 Mountaineers victory. Remember to eat some guacamole for good luck.
NCAAF Pick: Appalachian State -3½ (-109) at BetRivers
NCAAF Pick: Over 48½ (-109) at BetRivers
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