For Appalachian State, the 2022 season fell short of expectations. Yes, a win over Texas A&M was a nice early season perk, and the program hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay,” but falling short of bowl eligibility was a disappointment.
In 2023, the Mountaineers look to rebound behind a powerful offensive line and a top-tier running game led by running back Nate Noel. App State does need to find a replacement for quarterback Chase Brice, who performed well during his time in Boone. Ryan Burger, a talented redshirt freshman, is a top contender for the job.
College football betting odds suggest App State will return to bowl eligibility in 2023, with BetMGM listing the team’s win total at 6.5 games. Odds for over 6.5 are -120, with odds for the under at +100.
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM!
I’d lean toward the over for App State, as a six-win season or worse would put head coach Shawn Clark on the hot seat with some fans. App State has a proud program tradition, and they’re plenty capable of returning to their winning ways in 2023.
In 2022, App State had five one-possession losses. Better luck in close games in 2023 should help the Mountaineers eclipse seven victories.
The 2023 schedule is also manageable for App State, which opens with non-conference games against Gardner-Webb, North Carolina, East Carolina, and Wyoming. The final three non-league games aren’t guaranteed wins, but in my estimation the Mountaineers have a good chance of going 3-1 or better in non-conference action – ECU and Wyoming are projected to be fringe bowl teams.
If App State opens 3-1, it’ll need to navigate a challenging Sun Belt East, but the Mountaineers face ULM and Southern Miss as cross-division foes. Avoiding Troy and South Alabama is a big plus, giving App State a pair of winnable games against Sun Belt West foes rather than matchups with potential 10-win teams.
The Mountaineers even face Coastal Carolina, Marshall, and Georgia Southern at home. A November road game to JMU will be a challenge, but road contests against Old Dominion and Georgia State don’t look too intimidating on paper.
The schedule does App State plenty of favors, perhaps making the strongest case for the Mountaineers to go over their projected win total.
Familiar coaching changes
Sometimes changes give me some pause in taking a team’s season-long win total over, especially when it comes within a strong program like App State. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, their new offensive and defensive coordinators aren’t that “new.”
Offensive coordinator Frank Ponce spent multiple seasons leading App State’s offense over the last decade, before spending the 2022 season as Miami’s quarterbacks coach. He’s back in Boone, and he should help steer App State’s offense to a successful 2023 season. His knowledge working with quarterbacks will be critical as the program transitions away from Brice.
Defensive coordinator Scot Sloan worked at App State from 2010-17, and he spent last season as the co-defensive coordinator at Army. Like Ponce, Sloan is back in the mix and looks to build App State into one of the more consistent defenses in the conference.
I like App State bringing these two coaches back, as it shouldn’t take long to generate the coaching chemistry needed to succeed. They also have new experiences that should allow them to bring a fresh perspective into meeting rooms.
In July, all signs point to an App State rebound in 2023.