Our main offshore sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for the upcoming Cure Bowl between Miami of Ohio and Appalachian State.
For your best bets, I will recommend App State and the “over.”
Miami (OH) RedHawks vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – 03:30 PM ET at FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando
Assessing The MAC
A defender of Miami will point to its accomplishments as a team and especially on defense. RedHawks backers will certainly assert that their defense can limit App State’s offense. However, we have to consider that Miami played most of its games against other MAC schools and that, consequently, its team statistics are largely shaped by MAC competition.
The RedHawks did dominate MAC teams, especially on defense, holding eight of their nine conference opponents below 20 points. However, the appropriate response to this fact is “So what?” because App State is not just another MAC opponent.
It’s worth looking at what the RedHawks did prior to conference play. Their well-reputed defense allowed 38 points to the Miami Hurricanes, 28 points to Massachusetts, 24 points to Cincinnati, and 20 points to Delaware State. It is apparent from these non-conference games that the RedHawks’ defense might be expected to be considerably more vulnerable now that they have to play another non-conference opponent.
The Sun Belt
The Sun Belt is one of those conferences that are stronger than the MAC, which means that App State has been steeled by facing stronger opposition throughout conference play.
This disparity between conference play is commonly reflected in games between MAC and Sun Belt teams. In this decade, the Sun Belt is 11-4 against MAC opponents, including 2-1 in bowl games. App State, specifically, is 4-0 against the MAC and 3-0 in bowl games against the MAC, while the RedHawks have one win and one loss against the Sun Belt.
How to Beat App State
In order to beat App State, a team will need to run the ball well.
The Mountaineers are susceptible to being out-physicaled in the trenches and, in general, when trying to stop the run. Their vulnerable run defense created the most recent memory of their team, which might mislead bettors into fading them on Saturday.
In this most recent game of theirs, they gave up 49 points to Troy, a fellow Sun Belt team who amassed 271 rushing yards on 35 carries. Run defense was a major factor in all of their losses.
The Mountaineers enjoyed a successful season because their run defense, as well as their team as a whole, are typically effective. They’ve enjoyed some impressive wins that are noteworthy. For example, when they dealt James Madison its only loss of the season, they held their opponent to 61 rushing yards on 33 carries.
While teams know that they need to run well against the Mountaineers, doing so isn’t easy.
Miami’s Rush Attack
We need to look at the RedHawks’ rush attack potential in order to help assess its overall team outlook on Saturday. MAC teams are known for not being very physical. It seems hard to believe that the RedHawks can do to App State what a team like Troy did.
Conference-based judgments aside, the RedHawks are weak on the ground. Nationally, their rush offense ranks 95th. Team-leading running back Rashad Amos averages 5.1 YPC. Amos went off on defenses that are considered tough within the MAC. One such opponent is Ohio, whose rush defense ranks tenth nationally.
Amos Out of Conference
But his non-conference output was telling. He was stifled, for example, by Cincinnati, a Big 12 newcomer that, before finishing 1-8 in Big 12 play this year, participated in the American Conference, another Group of Five conference. Nationally, Cincinnati ranks 112th, one spot behind App State in rush defense.
So, RedHawks backers will point to App State’s low rush defense ranking, but we have to keep in mind this question of overall conference strength, which explains how Amos could thrive against Ohio with its attractive defensive rankings but struggle against the Bearcats.
It is also unclear who will start at quarterback for the RedHawks.
Aveon Smith just entered the transfer portal. Brett Gabbert hasn’t played since October 21, when he suffered a season-ending right leg injury. There would be a considerable drop-off at quarterback if neither player could go. The third quarterback has attempted five career passes.
Whoever plays will have trouble against App State, whose pass defense is its strength. Tar Heels star quarterback Drake Maye, for example, finished his game against the Mountaineers with a passer rating far below his season average.
App State’s Complete Offense
It is telling that the Mountaineers scored 23 points against a Troy defense that, nationally, ranks higher than Miami.
In that game, their top two running backs averaged a respectable 4.1 and 5.9 YPC, respectively. Their potent rush attack also impressed in non-conference play, amassing 219 rushing yards against ACC school North Carolina. Besides boasting various capable running backs, App State had two offensive linemen named to this year’s All-Sun Belt squad.
Quarterback Joey Aguilar was named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year. Aguilar can throw it all over the field, including deep. He’s overall an efficient quarterback who amassed 33 passing touchdowns this year.
With quality and depth at running back, plus decorated offensive linemen and a good quarterback, App State has the offense to dismantle the RedHawks, who will now have to deal with a Sun Belt opponent and a strong one at that. A team that needs to rely on its defense to win, Miami won’t keep up.
It will struggle to run the ball against App State, failing to take advantage of the Mountaineers’ greatest vulnerability. In addition to betting on App State, we can take advantage of the team’s total opportunities.
Appalachian State Team Total Over 26.5 (-115) at Bovada
Miami (OH) Team Total Under 20.5 (+105) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.