Miami Ohio vs

Appalachian State

at Orlando
Sat, Dec 16
12:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 205
Odds: Appalachian State -6.5, Total: 43

Game Analysis

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Appalachian State (-6.5)  23   Miami-Ohio  19

Lean with Miami-Ohio if they get to +7 (-115 or better)

Miami-Ohio won their final 5 games, including the MAC Championship game, after star quarterback Brett Gabbert was lost for the season to injury and now the RedHawks may have to rely even more on their stellar defense and elite special teams now that late-season starting QB Aveon Smith has decided to transfer. Third string QB Henry Hesson will get the start and I’ll assume he’s a downgrade from Smith. Smith is a bad passer (just 50% completions) but he was effective in the read-option run plays, as the running backs were much more productive in that type of offense. Hesson was listed as a pro-style quarterback coming out of high school, so I’ll assume he won’t be running the offense that Smith ran down the stretch. I’ll assume that the rushing attack will go back to the low level that they were when Gabbert (also a pro-style QB) was the quarterback (i.e. 1.1 yards per rushing play worse than average) and that Hesson is the same as Smith in the pass game (although it wouldn’t take much for him to be better). For the season, Miami was 0.5 yards per play worse than average offensively and I’ll rate their attack at 1.0 yppl worse than average heading into this game.

Appalachian State’s defense was horrible the first half of the season, but that unit improved later in the year when EJ Johnson became the starting nickleback and freshman Santana Hopper became the starting nose tackle. Johnson barely played the first 7 games (just 1 tackle) but he averaged 6.3 tackles (3rd on the team) and 1.0 passes defended over the final 6 games of the season and the pass defense was 0.5 yppp better in those 6 games than it was in the first half of the season. Hopper earned 2nd team freshman All-American honors despite starting just 5 games and the run defense went from 1.8 yards per rushing play worse than average the first 8 games to 0.1 yprp worse than average the final 5 games with Hopper starting (and with Johnson’s support in the run game from his NB/Safety position). Appalachian’s defense was 0.5 yppl worse than average this season but I rate that unit at just 0.1 yppl worse than average with their current lineup. Miami is projected to gain just 253 yards at 4.6 yppl in this game, which includes and adjustment for heavy wind (16 mph) and rain that is expected throughout the game.

Miami-Ohio won 11 games this season and one of those was in their opener at Miami-Florida while the other was by just 4 points to a good Toledo team. Good defense and great special teams is the reason the RedHawks were winning with Smith and quarterback and they could win this game for the same reasons. Miami yielded just 15.8 points per game and 4.9 yppl to a collection of FBS opponents that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average FBS defense.

Appalachian State’s offense has been 0.6 yppl better than average in Joey Aguilar’s 12 starts at quarterback and they should be better without leading rusher Nate Noel, who has decided to transfer – probably because his playing time was being cut by younger and better players. Noel averaged 4.8 ypr against FBS opponents this season but new lead back Kanye Roberts has averaged 5.7 ypr against FBS teams and has also been more effective as a receiver (7.3 yards per target on 15 targets to Noel’s 4.3 YPT on 20 targets). I project 390 yards at 5.7 yppl for the Mountaineers in this game.

Appalachian has a significant advantage from the line of scrimmage (assuming Hesson is as bad in the pass game for Miami as Smith was), but the RedHawks have a huge edge in special teams. Miami’s special teams prowess begins with Lou Groza Aware winner Graham Nicholson, who made all 23 of his field goals, including 8 from 40 yards or more (the backup was also 3 for 3) but they were also +8.3 yards in net punting differential, +3.0 in kickoff yard line differential and +5 in blocked kicks. Special teams matter more in low scoring games and partially explains how Miami could be outgained in their 12 games against FBS opponents yet outscore those teams by 8.2 points per game while going 10-2 straight up (much like Iowa, who has the best special teams rating in the nation).

Overall, the math favors Appalachian State by 6 points, but Miami applies to a 75-27 ATS bowl game situation that plays on underdogs with the significantly better defense. Miami-Ohio would be a Lean at +7 points or more (-115 odds or better).

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Miami Ohio
  • Appalachian State


  • Run Plays 30.8 33.5
  • Run Yards 145.5 153.5
  • YPRP 4.7 4.6


  • Pass Comp 12.0 17.5
  • Pass Att 21.8 29.8
  • Comp % 55.0% 58.8%
  • Pass Yards 171.1 189.6
  • Sacks 1.9 2.8
  • Sack Yards 11.3 17.8
  • Sack % 8.1% 8.7%
  • Pass Plays 23.8 32.6
  • Net Pass Yards 159.8 171.8
  • YPPP 6.7 5.3


  • Total Plays 54.5 66.1
  • Total Yards 305.3 325.3
  • YPPL 5.6 4.9


  • Int 0.6 0.8
  • Int % 2.7% 2.8%
  • Fumbles 0.5 0.4
  • Turnovers 1.1 1.3
  • Points 26.9 16.2
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