By Paul T. Choate
Nov. 8, 2012. This Saturday, Nov. 10, the No. 12 Appalachian State Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2 SoCon) will be playing for a record-tying 12th Southern Conference Championship when they take on unranked Furman (3-6, 2-4 SoCon) in the Black Saturday game.
Not so long ago, the fans of App Nation were beginning to worry this might just be an off year for the ASU squad, but a thrilling come-from-behind victory over then-No. 2/1 Georgia Southern (7-2, 6-2 SoCon) put them back in SoCon title contention. The Mountaineers were down 11 points at one point in the game, 14-3, but showed grit and determination and fought back to win 31-28.
ASU is 11-2 all-time in games where they have an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the SoCon Championship and have won the last eight title-clinching games by an average score of 34-11.
Cause for concern might stem from a few stats that the Mountaineers probably aren’t proud of. They have not played well recently after coming off wins against ranked opponents. The last three times ASU has defeated a nationally ranked opponent, they have lost the following week. Additionally and ironically, last year after defeating a No. 1-ranked Georgia Southern squad 24-17 they dropped a game to Furman 20-10.
Another stat that might cause concern is the fact that Furman is the only current member of the SoCon that ASU has a losing record against, 17-22-3 all-time. However, the Mountaineers have defeated Furman in nine of the last 11 meetings dating back to 2002.
ASU brings one of the SoCon’s best offenses to the table for the Black Saturday matchup. The Mountaineers get a SoCon-best 464.6 total yards per game and have the third highest average points per game (32.5) in the conference.
On paper, ASU dominates this matchup. Furman is dead last in the SoCon in points per game with only 24.9 and are also dead last in passing yards allowed per game (233.8). This is not a good stat against an ASU squad that has the second-best passing game in the conference with 280.3 yards per game, led by star quarterback Jamal Jackson.
Interesting to note, however, is that there is only a 0.6 point difference between the two squads in terms of points allowed per game, at 28.6 for ASU and 29.2 for Furman.
If ASU pulls off the win, it would tie Furman for 12 SoCon Championships. Furman’s 12 championships have come in 74 years in the conference, while ASU has only been a member for 41 years. The win would also assure them an eighth straight berth into the NCAA Division I Football Championship.
However, if ASU loses, it would put their national championship playoff hopes in serious jeopardy and would also be their first loss to Furman at Kidd Brewer Stadium since 1996. The last time Furman won in Boone, many members of the current ASU squad had not yet started elementary school.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Grass seating is still available on goasu.com for $17 to $27. The game will not be televised, but GoASU TV will air the game online with rates starting at $10.95 for a one month subscription. You can also listen to the game live for free on the radio at WATA-AM 1450.
For more information, visit goasu.com.