- Associated Press - Friday, December 14, 2018

New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs. Appalachian St. (10-2), Dec. 15, 9 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

Line: Appalachian State by 6 1/2.

Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads 2-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Appalachian State is representing the Sun Belt Conference as league champion and interim coach Mark Ivey, a former Mountaineer player, is getting perhaps his only shot to coach his alma mater after taking over when Scott Satterfield left for Louisville. Appalachian State has announced its next permanent coach will be North Carolina State offensive coordinator Eli Drinikwitz. Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill is playing his final game under his father, head coach Rick Stockstill. The Blue Raiders QB says he wants to celebrate one more triumph with his father and finish on a winning note after losing the Conference USA title game.

KEY MATCHUP

Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill against an Appalachian State defense that has kept opponent scoring low all season. Stockstill is the Blue Raiders’ all-time leader in touchdown passes with 105 and has completed 70 percent of his passes this season. App State is allowing just 15.7 points and 279.3 yards per game, including just 148.1 yards passing per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Middle Tennessee: DB Wesley Bush has intercepted a six passes this season and returned two for touchdowns, and his 147 return yards are the third most in Blue Raider history.

Appalachian St: QB Zac Thomas was the Sun Belt’s offensive player of the year. He passed for 1,862 yards and 18 TDs while throwing just four interceptions. He also rushed for 476 yards and 10 touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Middle Tennessee is playing in a school-record fourth straight bowl game and fifth in last six years. … The Blue Raiders have scored four defensive TDs this season. … Middle Tennessee has scored 30 or more points 73 times since coach Rick Stockstill’s first season with the Blue Raiders in 2006. … Rick Stockstill’s 13 seasons Middle Tennessee make him the longest-tenured head coach in Conference USA. … These teams last played each other in the 1992 NCAA Division I-AA playoffs in 1992, when Middle Tennessee beat Appalachain State 35-10. … Appalachian State won a Sun Belt title for a third straight season, doing so this year by beating Louisiana-Lafayette in the inaugural conference championship game. … The Mountaineers have four special teams TDs this season on two punt returns, a kickoff return and a blocked punt. … Darrynton Evans has rushed for 1,037 yards despite not becoming Appalachian State’s primary rusher until the season’s fifth game because of an injury to Jalin Moore. Evans’ season gave the Mountaineers a 1,000-yard running back for the seventh straight year.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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